James Craig, a long-time Detroit police chief and Republican, is expected to challenge Democratic tovernor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan’s gubernatorial race next year.
A source in connection with the chief shared the development with The Detroit News Friday. Craig told The Detroit News that he will announce his future plans at an upcoming press conference.
“I’m a lifelong public servant,” Craig said. “I want to continue to serve.”
Craig and other potential contenders have met with GOP leaders, including Ron Weiser, the chair of the Michigan Republican party, according to the source.
“I think he would make a fine candidate, should he choose to run,” Weiser said.
Detroit-based reporter Charlie LeDuff said on his “No BS News Hour” podcast that Craig is planning to retire from the department and is considering a potential candidacy and political run. It is anticipated that the police chief will announce his departure on Monday.
Craig, an African-American Detroit native, has been viewed as a conservative frontrunner to challenge Whitmer, who has faced intense criticism from conservatives over her COVID-lockdown policies this past year. She’s also been slammed for disregarding her own government mandates discouraging travel, prompted by her family visit to Florida during quarantine.
Whitmer’s approval rating has continued to drop, opening the door for the Michigan Republican party to present a viable opponent.
Craig has taken pro-Second Amendment stances, recommending that more Detroit residents bear arms to reduce crime and suggesting that the prevalence of concealed carry permits makes the city a less likely target for terrorist attacks.
The police chief’s potential candidacy comes as the nation continues to be troubled by a breakdown in race relations after a number of high-profile shootings involving altercations between law enforcement and African Americans this year. George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer triggered a wave of nationwide riots and protests as well as debates on police reform and funding.
Craig, who has been police chief since 2013, has stated that police officers should be held “accountable for violating their oath and breaking the law.” He has also vocally supported law enforcement, calling out Michigan Democratic representative Rashida Tlaib after she tweeted in April that “policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist,” and there should be “no more policing.”