Detroit Police Chief James Craig considering run against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has faced heavy criticism over the authoritarian manner in which she handled the coronavirus pandemic in her state, giving rise to a growing number of potential candidates laying the groundwork to challenge her when she runs for reelection in 2022.

One of those potential challengers is Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who recently announced his plan to retire from the police force but has also expressed his intention to continue serving the public in some role, the Washington Examiner reported.

Craig has garnered fame among conservatives over the years for his strong support of the Second Amendment, personal responsibility, and family values, as well as for being an outspoken opponent of the anti-police rhetoric emanating from the Democratic Party.

“I want to continue to serve”

The Detroit News, citing an unnamed source close to the chief, reported last week that Craig would announce his retirement on Monday and then reveal his plans to run for governor shortly thereafter.

“I’m a lifelong public servant,” Craig told the outlet when initially pressed about his plans. “I want to continue to serve.”

The newspaper also reported that Craig recently held discussions about a possible gubernatorial bid with both state and national Republicans, likely in an effort to survey how much support he might garner for such a run.

The hope for Republicans with regard to a Craig candidacy would be for him to win over independent and cross-over voters from Whitmer, particularly in Detroit where, aside from the aggrieved and anti-cop leftist activist class, Craig is widely respected by a majority of the predominately minority-resident city.

“I’m not ruling it out”

Craig did indeed announce his retirement Monday from the position he has held since 2013, effective June 1, though he did not immediately confirm the speculation about a run for governor, Michigan’s MLive.com reported.

“I have not made that decision. I’m not ruling it out,” Craig said after revealing that he has considered himself to be a conservative Republican for at least the past decade. The police chief acknowledged that he has been “humbled and flattered” over the support he has already received for a gubernatorial run.

Were Craig to formally enter the governor’s race as a Republican, he would join a growing field of prospects but have a distinct advantage as one of the only candidates with both statewide and national name recognition. The only other prospective candidate with that advantage is former GOP Senate candidate John James.

The Detroit News reported that James, a successful businessman and Iraq War Army veteran, has not yet said whether he will run for governor in 2022, but did recently announce the creation of a fundraising political action committee — the Mission First, People Always PAC — an organization in which he will serve as chairman.

James has also built a national following among conservative Republicans through his unsuccessful, though promising, campaigns for a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan in 2018 and 2020. He lost the races by six points and two points, respectively, but substantially outperformed predictions of blowout Democratic wins in both races.

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