Chief Craig’s uphill battle
Chief James Craig for Governor.
Chief who for what?
Those are legitimate questions for those who don’t live in Detroit.
You see, Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who has been the top cop in Motown since 2013 and had 28 years under his holster on the L.A. Police Department, decided to retire. The word is that the current Democratic mayor, Mike Duggan, decided to go in a new direction, as they say, so the chief “retired.”
So, with nothing else to do, he’s running for governor.
And this is not some whimsical fancy. A key GOP insider reveals “Hollywood” (Craig’s nickname, because he likes being on camera) will soon hire a consultant, formulate his kitchen cabinet of close advisors, and ride a law-and-order horse into the Republican nomination and then take on you-know-who in the general election.
A Gretchen Whitmer vs. James Craig contest would have some box office political appeal, but first things first.
And a little history before that.
When millionaire Dick DeVos got into the GOP race to unseat incumbent Democrat Jennifer Granholm, his huge Amway-driven bank account scared everyone else out of the contest.
Chief Craig is no Dick DeVos. It’s highly unlikely he will be handed the primary nomination on a silver platter without a fight with another Republican (or Republicans).
He’ll have to raise money. But, before that, he has to raise his name ID (see the question posed in the second paragraph above).
One key GOP operative figures the chief will do well in Detroit. Citizens know him and his track record during a turbulent post-George Floyd-Black Lives Matter stretch won him the praise of Mayor Duggan because, while other cities went up in flames, Detroit remained edgy, but not like other areas that saw serious violence.
Craig, of course, would not defeat Ms. Whitmer in solidly Democrat Motown, but, if he can make a dent in her margin of victory by securing 10% to 20% of her normal vote, he could hurt her chances of winning.
Or so the GOP theory goes.
Note, however that Donald Trump got only 5% of the city vote, so another Republican getting to 20% is a tad of a stretch.
With a large African American community in nearby Southfield, in vote-rich Oakland County, supporters of the chief feel he can do the same thing there.
But how will he play in the other 81 counties in the state?
Chief Craig’s prospects for unseating the governor hinges on the Trump factor.
What does the chief do about Trump, who is itching to defeat his nemesis, Mrs. Whitmer?
Generally, a Trump blessing would help in a primary battle, but popular wisdom holds that, in the general election, the Trump embrace could be a curse.
The former president once described the chief as “terrific,” but, remember, Mr. Trump lost Michigan by 154,000 votes.
“Trump will praise him, if he wants,” figures a GOP mucky muck, but the question is, does Mr. Craig want it?
And, of course, the bigger question is, will a majority of Michigan residents want him over her, if he actually gets the chance?