Spring is upon us (we think), and with it comes the semblance of a new gear for the still crowded and divisive Republican primary for governor. Here’s what the candidates got up to this week.
Cloudy With a Chance of Transparency
Just kidding. Despite MDP pointing out the fact that GOP candidates like James Craig, Perry Johnson, Kevin Rinke, Garrett Soldano and Tudor Dixon have refused to disclose everything from seats on corporate boards to tax returns, Sunshine Week 2022 ends as it started. Neither those five, nor any other gubernatorial Republican running in the 12-person field, used this week to voluntarily disclose their tax returns or personal finances, the latter of which is a standard for candidates and elected officials in nearly every other state in the country.
While most pretended Sunshine Week didn’t exist, out-of-touch millionaire Kevin Rinke recently panned pending legislation to right these muddy wrongs as “cynical.”
We wish we could say we were surprised.
Perry Johnson’s Cartoonishly Sinister Business Practices
“A stereotype of corporate America in his unquenchable desire to increase his own wealth and power.”
“He never ‘saved’ the auto industry.”
“A lack of concern for the safety and well-being” of working families.
On the wrong side of ethics.” “Violat[ed] conflict-of-interest rules.”
“Aspiring to apply obsolete technology to everyday life.”
“Walked a fine legal line.”
“Uses his power and wealth to do whatever he wants, usually without regard for consequences.”
If you couldn’t tell which of these passages were from Bridge Michigan’s recent deep dive into the shady business practices “prolific junk faxer” Perry Johnson exploited to build his wealth and which were from a summary of longstanding Simpsons villain Mr. Burns, we certainly wouldn’t blame you.
As it happens, the fictional character would likely find Johnson both contemporary and kindred spirit. Through his various companies, the odd-quality “guru” manipulated both ends of quality control by having one entity teach businesses how to ace their audits while a different entity completed the double-deal by actually conducting the audit.
He relied on the “labor” (extremely generous phrasing) of state prisoners that obviously weren’t in a position to negotiate compensation, bragged about how much money it was saving him, explained that it was even cheaper than his original plan to outsource jobs to India, and then had a spokesperson defend the exploiting practice as skilled job creation.
And of course, Johnson also sent so many unsolicited fax ads for his companies – nearly 12 million over a nine-year period – that he made history as “one of the first in his industry sued for violating rules designed to stop them.”
All we’re saying is you’ve never seen Perry Johnson and Mr. Burns in the same room.
The Purity Tests Continue…
We’ve repeatedly warned that commitment to prop up lies surrounding the 2020 general election would be the premier purity test in this primary, and chief election conspiracy theorist Garrett Soldano is once again embracing his role as proctor. This week, he labeled Perry Johnson an “out-of-touch, self-funded” bandwagoner that is only now going all in on the fake issue now that he’s running for governor, according to MIRS. At a meet and greet this week, Soldano also reserved some frustration for Kevin Rinke, wondering why the other millionaire in the race offered no notable support or resources for Soldano’s Unlock Michigan petition.
Soldano also went after the crowd sizes of his opponents: “Do you see any other candidate drawing crowds? They don’t. The pictures I see online are fine. They have six, to 20 people, they’re not getting crowds.”
…And MIGOP is Getting In on It
James Craig was no fluke, MIGOP insiders have been in the business of coronating candidates since co-chair Ron Weiser paid Shelby Township clerk Stan Grot $200,000 to drop out of the 2018 Secretary of State race.
Now, Weiser’s co-chair Meshawn Maddock is getting in on the kingmaking action with roughly a month to go until the party holds its nominating convention. This week, she made the “unusual move” to offer a full-throated endorsement of Matthew DePerno and Kristina Karamo, two election conspiracy theorists that have made their respective runs for Attorney General and SOS single-issue crusades to decertify the last presidential and punish their political adversaries.
A MIGOP spokesperson tried to argue that it was a personal blessing and not a reflection of the party’s thinking, but it rang hollow for a number of gubernatorial candidates that are starting to see the writing on the wall.
At a campaign stop, Rinke accused his own party leadership of “paying for candidates” and throwing their considerable weight behind them prematurely rather than “letting the delegates in the system work.” Meanwhile, Mike Brown endorsed DePerno’s opponent Tom Leonard, signaling that the AG race may become a proxy war of sorts exposing the still-deep rifts that persist among the “completely divided” Michigan Republicans.
Some MIGOP insiders have had enough. “Bottom line, we’re for sure going to lose every one of these seats. It’s not going to be close. […] The party is imploding,” said one in reaction to Maddock’s endorsement. And former Michigan Gov. John Engler’s chief of staff said, “This kind of thing shouldn’t happen. Sad. Party leaders shouldn’t put their thumbs on the scales.”
Who could have possibly ever foreseen this exact outcome.