Could The Outgoing Detroit Police Chief Be the Republican Party’s Best Recruit This Cycle?

Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier

As violent protests engulfed America’s major cities in the summer of 2020, city governments and police officials struggled to keep the peace. In  Minneapolis, an entire police precinct was overrun. In Washington, D.C., violent protests set cars on fire and broke into buildings just feet from the White House.

Noticeably absent from the list of metropolitan areas suffering from violent riots and protests-gone-wrong, was the City of Detroit. A year later, many in the city and surrounding communities credit Police Chief James Craig for keeping the peace and halting outside agitators from causing damage to the Motor City.

Chief Craig, who recently resigned as Chief after eight years on the job, is rumored to be considering a run for Governor. The rumor mill is churning faster than ever after the Chief announced that he’d be giving a speech July 6th from Jackson, Michigan. The date and location is memorable because it’s the 167th anniversary of the founding of the Republican Party, which took place in Jackson, Michigan.

Multiple reports indicate that Republican officials and activists across the state are excited for a potential Chief Craig candidacy, which they see as an opportunity to contrast the GOP’s message of public safety with that of the Democrat Party, whose loudest voices are calling for defunding the police.

Simply put, former Police Chief James Craig gives the Repubican Party an actual shot at winning back the Governor’s office, while also boosting down ballot candidates in a plethora of competitive races. Recent polling has Chief Craig already leading Whitmer 45 percent to 38 percent, outpacing another potential contender, John James, who is losing to Whitmer in the poll, 50 percent to 45 percent.

The Chief should be able to handle a primary which, as of now, lacks a major name capable of competing with Whitmer on cash and resources. A number of heavy weights in the donor community are reportedly waiting anxiously for the Chief to jump in. He is a regular on Fox News, appearing a few times each month on Tucker Carlson Tonight, the highest rated cable news program on television. Carlson even mentioned the rumor in a recent interview, offering an endorsement of sorts at the same time.

Chief Craig can contrast a message of leadership, self-reliance, public safety and competency up against Whitmer, whose pandemic response shuttered thousands of small businesses and destroyed lives and livelihoods.

Chief Craig will have the opportunity to contrast his 44-year law enforcement record, which included stints as Chief of Police in Cincinnati, Ohio and Portland, Maine, with the record of Whitmer, which is full of examples of hypocrisy and lies.

While other cities around the country, including Chicago and Portland burned, Chief Craig showed leadership and worked with community leaders to keep the peace. Residents in Detroit, and around Detroit appreciate the Chiefs success in keeping the peace and the Chief enjoys high name ID and approval ratings in the most populous region in the state (Metro-Detroit). The counties of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County are critical to any candidates success for statewide office.

Macomb County is the birthplace of Reagan Democrats, and now Trump Republicans. It has a strong union presence but considers themselves patriotic, socially conservative, and they reject today’s wokeism from the left.

Oakland County is trending away from Republicans, but a candidate like Chief Craig should be able to bring home some suburban voters who have left the GOP on the issues of crime and public safety.

Wayne County includes the City of Detroit but also important cities such as Livonia. Traditionally Republican candidates lead in statewide races until the wee hours of the morning when the City of Detroit, and therefore Wayne County report their results dramatically in favor of the Democrat candidate.

Chief Craig scrambles the entire board.  He’ll perform as well as John James and Donald Trump in Macomb County, while bringing Oakland County moderates back to the Republican Party because of the strength of the job he did in Detroit in keeping communities safe. 

Chief Craig on the other hand has a record of growing up on the streets of Detroit and serving his community in Detroit as Police Chief.  There is an opportunity for Chief Craig to earn the votes of Detroiters that have never been open to Republicans, and not because he is black, but because of the work he did as Chief of Police.

While Whitmer will have the cash, resources and national Democrat party’s full support, her polling numbers have consistently fallen over the course of the past 6 months. Chief James Craig is considered by many political observers to be the only potential candidate that can garner the support necessary to defeat Whitmer.