LANSING — With this coming Monday marking one year until the Republican primary election takes place, here’s where things currently stand for the several candidates in the running:

This week, seven out of the nine candidates in the running were due to file July quarterly disclosures and the results were abysmal. Garret Soldano raised $624,847 for his gubernatorial campaign over three months and was the top fundraiser by a mile, outraising (in order) the amounts that Ralph Rebant, Tudor Dixon, Ryan Kelley, and Bob Scott earned combined. Austin Chenge and Evan Space both filed paperwork signifying their intent to raise and spend less than $1,000 each. In total, receipts for this period totaled less than $1 million.

Smelling blood in the water of what inexplicably remains a wide open primary, a potential 10th candidate is eyeing a bid, used car salesman Kevin Rinke, who has already pledged to commit  an “initial investment” of $10 million to match Governor Whitmer’s current cash on hand. 

It’s not just having a stacked war chest though, it’s the external support those investments represent. Panicking in response to Whitmer’s record-breaking fundraising, Republicans devolved to finger-pointing this week after Governor Whitmer followed through on her promise to “run hard, just like I do everything,” turning the many serious recall efforts currently in motion against her by fundraising to beat those back as well. 

Current and former consultants of Republican gubernatorial campaigns flocked to the press to either tell the extremists pushing these recalls to knock it off or give credence to Governor Whitmer’s ability to fight battles on every front that gets thrown at her:

  • Fred Wszolek, Tudor Dixon’s gubernatorial campaign consultant: “All of these grassroots conservatives who want to get rid of Whitmer need to get with the program that they’re currently making it harder, not easier. […] I mean, if they were going to be successful, then everybody would embrace it,” Wszolek said. “But clearly they’re not going to collect a million signatures between now and the end of the year, and these requests are only having the effect of strengthening Whitmer.” He also tweeted, “Every grassroots conservative in MI should turn up the heat on the various Recall Whitmer activists to pack it in now. They’re not going to succeed, and they’re strengthening her by the day. They knew this could happen. It is. Enough.”
  • John Sellek, former consultant to Bill Schuette’s 2018 campaign: Whitmer’s team figured out the “rules of the game…and they clearly are running with it. […] Is that backfiring on the party as a whole? Yes, it definitely is. The governor’s team was right to go after it from a political perspective.”

Republican consultants can do their best to kill the same recall frenzy they started almost two years ago, but the only thing we see is a whole bunch of finger-pointing amongst a party too dysfunctional to identify and nominate a worthy contender. Time’s ticking.

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