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Crowded GOP Gubernatorial Primary Field is Set

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The deadline to file for the August primary ballot was Tuesday. The result? A historically crowded race at the top.

Ten Republican candidates for governor filed the required petition signatures to make a run at Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It will be the largest primary field in state history.

What does it say for the party and race?

One side of the ticket is set, Governor Whitmer is running as the democratic nominee. Every single Michigan governor since 1962 has earned at least a second term.

This year, given COVID response, political trends and the low approval of President Joe Biden, a lot of people say she is vulnerable and a lot of those people are running to be the one to try to unseat her.

Ten candidates filed their signed petitions to earn a spot on the primary ballot. Political experts say this shows the excitement in the party but also fractious support for the eventual nominee.

“While there’s a ton of energy behind the GOP and that’s going to mean a lot of volunteers and a lot of donations,” said John Sellek, political strategist at Harbor Strategic, “It also means there will be a lot of strife and we’ve started to see that already so we should expect a pretty loud primary going forward.”

Right now the leader in every poll is former Detroit police chief James Craig, a big name in Metro Detroit but not known as well elsewhere in the state.

“His challenge has been to take that lead and build on top of it and that’s something he has not done so far and he’s had a pretty open window over almost a year to do it,” said Sellek, “He hasn’t done it yet so whether he hangs on to that percentage and everyone else fights for the rest, or he falls back a little bit and the tops going to get a lot more crowded, we don’t know yet.”

The biggest chip yet to fall in the race may just be the endorsement by former President Donald Trump. He’s already spread endorsements across the state but not yet for this race. The two front runners for his support so far have been Tudor Dixon and Perry Johnson. But he is surely going to endorse the person he thinks can win.

“I think he realizes he’s got to make sure the person he does put his name behind can actually deliver and he doesn’t want to put his name and reputation at risk when he’s still looking ahead to 2024,” said Sellek.

One thing all ten candidates have in common, very little political experience, or at least none higher than county seats. From business owners to former cops to pastors, the field has a little bit of everything and once the State Board of Canvassers approve their signatures,  the race to the August Primary is on.

Full List of Republican Primary Candidates:
Donna Brandenburg, Byron Center, Brandenburg Capital Group
Michael Brown, Stevensville, Michigan State Police captain
James Craig, Detroit, former police chief
Tudor Dixon, Muskegon, Real America’s Voice news anchor
Perry Johnson, Bloomfield Hills, entrepreneur
Ryan Kelley, Allendale, real estate broker
Michael Markey Jr., Grand Haven, financial advisor
Ralph Rebandt, Farmington Hills, pastor
Kevin Rinke, Bloomfield Hills, Rinke Automotive Group
Garrett Soldano, Mattawan, chiropractor

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