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Musician and political provocateur Ted Nugent says his friend Kid Rock, also known as Robert Ritchie, isn’t running for the U.S. Senate.

In a Newsmax TV interview this week, Nugent claimed that “some goofball” in the Michigan Republican Party pulled the idea “out of their a--.”

“My friend Bob Ritchie never thought, never hinted, never mentioned, never gave any consideration whatsoever to running for public office,” said Nugent, a native of Metro Detroit.

“That the GOP and the media continue to milk this nonsense is one of the most embarrassing chapters for the Republican Party. Somebody write this down: Kid Rock ain’t running for squat.”

When Ritchie first tweeted about a possible Senate run, it was news to the Michigan Republican Party. The party has “not had any contact with him at all,” spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said in mid-July, “so I can’t speak to the validity of it.”

Nugent, a Republican, opined that Ritchie would make a “much improved representative for Michigan” than incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, but noted that Ritchie has a full-time job recording, touring and writing songs.

“They made it up and they’re running with it, but they should probably stop and focus their resources on someone who can beat the Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi-wannabe Debbie Stabenow,” Nugent said.

“The Republican Party better get somebody in there who can be a status-quo crusher like Donald Trump.”

The head of a super political action committee aligned with Senate GOP leadership on Friday encouraged Ritchie to run, saying his group would “actually be very interested in his candidacy.”

“The superficial sense of Kid Rock is that he’s an entertainer and this wild redneck, but the truth of the matter is he’s done a lot in his home state philanthropically,” Steven Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, said on C-SPAN.

“He’s a pretty smart guy. He thinks about policy, and he’s a shrewd businessman. He hasn’t stayed this long in the business that he’s been in by actually living the life that he looks like he lives when he’s on stage. I certainly wouldn’t count him out. ... If you’re watching, Kid, we hope you run.”

Law said he has not spoken to Ritchie but saw him perform last year at the Republican National Convention and “was impressed.”

“There was a showmanship but also an obvious discipline. The whole show is very clearly choreographed and scripted. I thought, this guy has a lot more going on than I knew,” Law added.

“I read up on him more recently and found out there’s a lot more to that redneck, whiskey-swilling image that he projects very capably.”

The declared candidates in the GOP primary field include Bloomfield Hills businesswoman Lena Epstein and retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young of Laingsburg. Businessman and Iraq War veteran John James of Farmington Hills has formed an exploratory committee.

Ritchie, who lives in Clarkston, recently said on his blog that he would launch an organization to promote voter registration, while continuing to explore a “very possible campaign” for the Senate.

The 46-year-old musician also said he was “beyond overwhelmed” with the response to his potential candidacy.

Ritchie teased a potential Senate run on July 12 when he tweeted a link to a website hosted by Warner Bros. selling merchandise with the logo, “Kid Rock For US Senate.” Skeptics maintain his “campaign” is a marketing stunt.

A big supporter of President Donald Trump, Ritchie visited the White House with Nugent a few months ago as guests of 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Nugent performed at a Nov. 6 Trump rally at the Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights two days before the election, and at a Grand Rapids rally on the eve of Election Day.

Asked this week whether Ritchie is qualified to serve in the Senate, Stabenow said she would let the voters decide.

“I’m going to let him decide, and let the primary voters decide, first of all,” Stabenow said. “And I think he’s going to be pretty busy with concerts and a big primary. So I’ll just wait until that is all done.”

Staff writer Jonathan Oosting and the Associated Press contributed

mburke@detroitnews.com

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