Before getting into this week’s primary developments, all of us at MDP wanted to acknowledge the victims of Tuesday’s tragedy that took place at Oxford High. Our hearts are with the teachers, staff, first responders, and everyone grappling with the loss of Madisyn Baldwin (17), Justin Schilling (17), Tate Myre (16), and Hana St. Juliana (14), taken from their families and community far too soon. 

Here’s what happened this week in the Republican race for governor:

SCOTUS Considers Dismantling Roe v. Wade, Again.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a Mississippi ban that puts Roe v. Wade in further jeopardy. Much like the Texas ban that was considered a month prior, the entire field remained silent on this huge issue for Michigan women and families. Should the landmark ruling get overturned, Michigan will revert to a near-total abortion ban that has been on the books since 1931. Tudor Dixon and James Craig both have committed to making sure that’s exactly what happens.

James Craig Keeps Getting Caught Taking Shady Backroom Deals.

This week, The Detroit News reported Craig “scored a seat” as a paid board member of Palltronics – a company headquartered in Florida that makes shipping pallets. As with the paid speaking company he set up shortly before announcing his retirement from DPD, Craig’s campaign “declined to directly answer” both how much he has been compensated for the position or if he has assumed similar roles for other businesses.

Adding insult to injury, Palltronics played a role in an alleged scheme to defraud a state-tied small business investment fund by using a $5 million loan to seize control of a shipping pallet company that was later acquired by Palltronics.

Everyone Sees How Dysfunctional and “Muddled” the Primary Remains With Less Than 8 Months To Go Until Voters Select a Republican Nominee.

This week, we highlighted MIRS editor Kyle Melinn’s piece for Lansing City Pulse. The column notably equated the current race breakdown to “a messy Republican primary with no clear frontrunner emerging in the foreseeable future.” 

Writing an op-ed for The Detroit News, conservative commentator Dennis Lennox plainly identified the dissatisfaction in each of the 12 candidates in the running: “As of now, none of the GOP candidates in Michigan have put forth anything beyond broad platitudes that echo talking points.” Lennox saved his most pointed criticisms for party insider favorite James Craig without naming him, writing, “Opining on Fox News about everything but your candidacy isn’t a winning strategy. Just ask Pete Hoekstra’s 2010 campaign.”

And this morning, Cook Political Report recognized the race as a toss-up and released a brief analysis of the problems Republicans are facing. While Democrats pointed to Governor Whitmer’s strength and leadership, “the Republican field battling for the chance to take her on is muddled” with James Craig having “faced scrutiny about some of the decisions he made as police chief and his lack of certification as an officer.” Rinke’s entry into the race only complicates the primary further for the MIGOP as he’s pledged to spend at least $10 million and is already up on air with a six figure ad buy.

Detroit’s WDET was the latest to point out that no matter how many pile into this still unsettled race, there will be little daylight: “Of all of the major, viable candidates in the Republican field, none have said that they accept the results of the 2020 election — a norm-breaking trend rooted in election lies and conspiracy theories that are now widely embraced by the GOP base.”

Kevin Rinke Can’t Decide How Much of An Election Conspiracy Theorist He’d Like to Be.

Since launching his self-funded campaign, millionaire Kevin Rinke has struggled to decide how hard to lean into the baseless lie that the 2020 general election was rife with fraud. First, he told FOX 17 that “there is no information that says that the election was stolen” before alluding in the same breath to undefined “significant irregularities that have been exposed in the past election in Michigan.” Then on the same day appearing on Off the Record, Rinke went back to “I have not seen anything that would indicate that there was fraud” and defending the 2020 outcome: “ I think that the election has been certified and that stands for itself.” 

Days later however, his campaign tweeted that “No matter how you cut it, the 2020 election was rife with uncertainty” and linked to a page of his campaign website which stated that “Kevin knows the 2020 election was rife with administrative problems.” 

Ryan Kelley’s Big Platform Pillar Suffered a Brutal Fact Check.

For months, Ryan Kelley has pledged to “happily and enthusiastically as governor, sign an executive order that eliminates the Department of Education.” In response, MLive threw a decent amount of cold water on the extremist fever dream recently, dedicating an entire fact checking piece that concluded, “the state constitution specifically provides for a state board of education comprised of statewide elected officials and a state superintendent.” 

And in the spirit of the season, Kelley used his float in Midland’s annual Santa parade to crudely “clash…holiday cheer and election rhetoric.” According to a separate MLive report and true to form, Kelley’s float sported signs like “Say No To Vaccine Mandates” and “Forensic Audit.” Santa Claus’ sleigh was immediately behind it, providing cringeworthy optics that caused “debate over the appropriateness of the float continues to play out on social media.”

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