Craig’s decision opens the door to a potentially fractious primary in a state where the GOP has recently experienced historic losses, owing in part to the selection of candidates who closely resemble former President Donald Trump and his election conspiracy allegations.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers, a conservative Republican who has opposed Trump, has already launched his candidacy. Craig has shown his willingness to embrace Trump’s vision for the party.
“Americans want better, they want something different, and that’s what we’re going to give them,” Craig says in a video on his new Senate campaign website.
The film, which includes snippets from prior chats with former Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson, is about crime and features photographs of Craig in uniform.
“I’m James Craig,” he says to the camera at the end of the video, “and I’m running for U.S. Senate.”
The retirement of long-serving Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, has opened the door for one of the contests that might determine political control of the chamber. Rep. Elissa Slotkin has received significant support in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Actor Hill Harper is also running in that primary.
Craig pokes fun at Slotkin in his introductory video, saying, “These are individuals who are political servants, not public servants,” as photos of Slotkin, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and President Joe Biden appear on screen.
In reaction to Craig’s candidacy, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes accused him of having a “long record of dodging accountability.”
“Michigan Republicans’ nasty, chaotic Senate primary has gone from bad to worse,” Barnes said. “Their intra-party fight is guaranteed to leave them with a nominee who is badly damaged and out of step with working families.”
Craig’s excellent name recognition in Detroit, along with his law enforcement background (he previously served as a police chief in Cincinnati and Portland, Maine), propelled him to the early favorite for the Republican nomination for governor in 2022.
His candidacy, however, was the target of an alleged forgery attempt, leaving him with insufficient legal petition signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. Tudor Dixon, a Trump-supporting conservative broadcaster, won the primary but was heavily beaten by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“Remember ‘The Gong Show?'” When questioned about his party’s defeats last year, Rogers alluded to a late-’70s TV talent show in which the sound of a gong eliminated losers. “I think we got a double gong.”
Former Republican Rep. Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump during the Capitol riot in January 2021, is considering a Senate bid.