Say hello to Kevin Rinke

Unless you are an Up North transplant from southern lower Michigan, the name Rinke won’t mean squat to you.

If you once lived down there, you recognize it as the name of a longstanding car dealership started by Grandpa Rinke many moons ago.

Well, Grandpa’s grandson is hoping to give the family name a little more statewide visibility as he launches what may turn out to be an interesting bid for the Republican nomination for governor.

Say hello to Kevin Rinke, who single-handedly has changed the landscape of the 12-person GOP primary for the right to face incumbent Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer next year.

The self-described business guy/non-career-politician did that by announcing that he is ready to open his wallet to the tune of 10 million smackers, which automatically made him the frontrunner in raising cash, surpassing his nearest opponent, who has compiled a piddly $1.4 million.

But, even more fascinating about his candidacy is how he, right out of the box, distinguished himself as not your typical, run-of-the-mill conservative Republican repeating the same old same old rhetoric that countless candidates before him have routinely uttered.

Item: Regarding former President Donald Trump’s assertion that the 2020 election was stolen, rigged, and swiped right from under his nose, any card-carrying Trumper would be shouting, “Amen.”

You won’t hear that shout from Mr. Rinke’s lips.

“I’ve seen nothing that would tell me the election was rigged,” he says, rejecting the Trump rhetoric, which means any chance of an endorsement from the Donald just went out the window.

Item: Any Republican worth his or her salt would sign the no-tax pledge faster than you can say “pandering for votes”.

When asked if he would do as others have done, Mr. Rinke said he would not.

“I’m not going to get locked into any pledge when it comes to regarding taxes,” he says, shocking the “Off the Record” panel the other day during his first extensive and wide-ranging broadcast interview.

He explains that the tax structure in Michigan needs to be changed, and not knowing what that will look like, he’s making no promises.

Item: Any normal GOP candidate would agree with the NRA that, if you restrict persons from carrying guns into schools, that’s the proverbial slippery slope, and, next thing you know, gun owners will be banned from carrying weapons elsewhere.

When asked if he would carry any weapon into a school, Mr. Rinke said he would not.

“I’m not going to put an AR-15 on my back and walk into school as a parent. That appears inappropriate,” he said, surprising the panel again.

However, he quickly adds he is pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment, and favors open and concealed carry of firearms.

Item: For years, when it was still alive, conservative Republicans were loathe to back the Equal Rights Amendment, calling it un-American and actually a setback for female rights, rather than a guaranteer of same.

When asked if he opposed the amendment, Mr. Rinke said he would not.

“Yeah,” he said, revealing that he backs the amendment, after pausing a second before he did.

That pause motivated the reporter who asked the question to ask him if he knew what it was.

With a certain degree of indignation, Mr. Rinke shot back, “Of course I know what it is. The Equal Rights Amendment.”

He looked the reporter right in the eyes.

Item: Changes to the state’s no-fault car insurance law. Legislative Republicans were falling all over themselves to sign off on the package of bills that, among other things, slashed the fee schedule for outpatient clinics that serve those with catastrophic brain injuries. Some of those facilities contend they will be forced to close, being unable to take the 45% hit in their budgets.

When asked if he opposed the no-fault package, Mr. Rinke not only said he did, he added: “I would not have signed the bill as presented. Absolutely not.”

Turns out, Mr. Rinke knows a thing or two about the brain injury business, having owned one, and, so, from personal experience, he notes: “I’m asking, what’s happening to those people now that they are suffering, because our governor agreed to a bill that was not complete, that was not understood, and needs to be repaired in the future? These people are suffering. I don’t think that’s right.”

Well, there you have it: Five litmus-test issues that most conservatives would rally around, but Mr. Rinke demonstrates his independence from party orthodoxy, which may cost him some conservative votes but may win him some independents and what’s left of the moderate wing of the GOP.

Could that turn the Rinke moniker into a household word?


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