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Former Detroit police chief James Craig ends Republican Senate bid, considers running for mayor

The decision, communicated through a phone interview with the Associated Press, was framed as a strategic business move rather than a reflection of insufficient support.

“This is strictly a business decision,” James Craig told the Associated Press by phone Tuesday. “I’m not leaving because I felt like I didn’t have the support. But from a business end, you need funds to run a campaign.”

Craig emphasized the critical need for financial resources to sustain a competitive campaign, underscoring the financial challenges that contributed to this unexpected exit.

When Craig initially launched his senatorial campaign in October, he stood out as a prominent figure in the Republican field, expressing aspirations to secure the endorsement of former President Trump.

However, over the ensuing four months, the campaign struggled to gain the desired momentum, hindered by a fundraising shortfall. As of the end of 2023, Craig had managed to raise only $60,581, a figure significantly behind other Senate candidates. The financial constraints ultimately led to the decision to suspend the campaign.

This departure has implications for the crowded GOP field in Michigan, vying to fill the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a prominent Democrat. While Michigan is often considered a swing state, Republicans have faced challenges in winning Senate races, with the last victory dating back to 1994.

Craig’s exit leaves the Republican contenders with figures like former U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Peter Meijer, along with Detroit-area businessman Sandy Pensler.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin emerges as a strong candidate, leading her party in fundraising with an impressive $11.7 million collected between her campaign launch in February 2023 and the year’s end. Slotkin is considered the favorite to secure the Democratic nomination, providing Democrats with a competitive edge in the race.

Craig’s political journey has been marked by aspirations for public office since his tenure overseeing the Detroit Police Department ended in 2021 after eight years. In the 2022 gubernatorial race, Craig emerged as a leading GOP candidate until complications arose due to fraudulent signatures on campaign paperwork, derailing his gubernatorial ambitions.

In light of his exit from the Senate race, Craig expressed that he is now seriously considering a run in Detroit’s mayoral election next year. This potential shift in focus aligns with Craig’s longstanding ties to the city and its political landscape. However, uncertainties loom over the current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s intentions, as he, a Democrat, has not yet announced whether he plans to seek a fourth term.

The dynamics of Detroit’s political scene, influenced by factors such as party affiliations, fundraising prowess, and strategic considerations, continue to evolve. While Craig’s decision to step back from the Senate race reshapes the Republican landscape, attention now turns to potential shifts in the mayoral arena, where Craig may once again become a central figure.

As political stakeholders recalibrate their strategies, the electoral landscape in Detroit and Michigan remains fluid, with implications for both local and national politics.

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Written by Aliyah Collins