Kid Rock keeps teasing possible Senate campaign

Melissa Nann Burke, and Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Singer and rapper Kid Rock said early Thursday he is launching an organization to promote voter registration, while continuing to explore a “very possible campaign” for U.S. Senate in Michigan.

The hard-partying renegade rocker said he was “beyond overwhelmed” with the response he has received during the last two weeks from Washington pundits to blue-collar folks who are “just simply tired of the extreme left and right bull----.”

“As part of the excitement surrounding this possible campaign, I decided to take a hard look to see if there was real support for me as a candidate and my message or if it was just because it was a fresh new news story,” Rock wrote at midnight on his website.

“One thing is for sure though…The democrats are ‘shattin’ in their pantaloons’ right now…and rightfully so!” Rock continued. “and if I decide to throw my hat in the ring for US Senate, believe me… it’s game on, m------------s,” ending the statement with an epithet.

Rock promised a news conference within the “next six weeks or so” to address his plans, saying “although people are unhappy with the government, too few are even registered to vote or do anything about it.” That would be a few days before or around the six concerts Rock is scheduled to perform Sept. 12-20 to open the Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit.

Rock had teased that he wanted to challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, who is seeking a fourth term.

He is fiscally conservative and a supporter of the Second Amendment but veers to the left on social issues by supporting gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose on abortion, according to statements within the past three years.

Other candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate include businesswoman Lena Epstein of Bloomfield Hills, who was Trump’s Michigan campaign co-chair; former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young Jr. of Laingsburg; and businessman, military veteran and political novice John James of Farmington Hills.

Rock, 46, stoked anticipation for a potential Senate run 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 have argued that his talk is a marketing ploy.

Rock said Thursday that money raised “at this time” through the sale of merchandise associated with his potential campaign will go toward his voter registration efforts.

“Not only can I raise money for this critical cause, but I can help get people registered to vote at my shows,” Rock wrote.

“The media has speculated this was a ploy to sell shirts or promote something. I can tell you, I have no problem selling Kid Rock shirts and yes, I absolutely will use this media circus to sell/promote whatever I damn well please (many other politicians are doing the same thing, they just feed you a bunch of bull---- about it).”

Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, has not filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, which is legally required within 15 days of raising or spending $5,000 for a political campaign. It’s been 15 days as of Thursday since Rock first teased a run for public office.

“I think it’s turning out to be an interesting race,” said John Wolfsberger, a former Macomb County Republican Party chairman.

Jamie Roe, co-owner of GOP political consulting firm Grand River Strategies, said Kid Rock would be a serious contender in a Republican primary if he decided to enter the race. He said Rock is well-liked among the GOP grassroots.

But Roe added that Rock would have to get serious about separating his commercial ventures from any political fundraising entities to avoid legal trouble. He also cautioned that Rock’s pro-choice stance on abortion would be a tough sell for “overwhelmingly” pro-life Michigan GOP primary voters.

“There’s always the chance you have an epiphany on the issue and change,” said Roe, who knows Macomb County. “But if he runs as a pro-choice candidate, it’s gonna be difficult to overcome in a Republican primary.”

But Wolfsberger, who is “a pro-life Catholic,” disagrees the issue would hurt a Rock candidacy.

“I think he would do fairly well in Macomb,” he said. “He doesn’t have anything that couldn’t be dealt with. I don’t think it’ll be a killer for him.”

Rock grew up on six acres in Romeo, the son of Susan and Bill Ritchie, who owned several car dealerships. He was briefly married to actress Pamela Anderson in 2006.

As The Detroit News first reported Monday, voter records show that Rock did not vote in Michigan’s 2016 GOP presidential primary election won by President Donald Trump, and cast ballots in just two of 10 other statewide or presidential primaries since 2002. Despite touring and other celebrity commitments, Rock has voted in every presidential general election since at least 2000.

The self-described Republican originally supported Detroit native Ben Carson ahead of the 2016 Michigan primary, but later praised Trump.

Joe DiSano, a Democratic political consultant, said Rock is just pulling an extended publicity stunt to sell more records.

“It’s another bite at the free publicity apple,” DiSano said.

If he does run, DiSano said Rock might be aided by the Democrats’ lack of a solid strategy in Macomb County. But he said Stabenow still would trounce Rock.