James Craig set to give first political speech at Jackson County GOP event

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Tuesday could be a big day for James Craig, the former Detroit Police chief who is expected to soon launch a campaign to become Michigan's next governor.

Craig, who ended his 44-year career in law enforcement on June 1, will give his first political speech Tuesday at a Jackson County Republican Party event scheduled to honor the 167th birthday of the GOP.

"The anniversary of the birthplace of the Republican Party is an important reminder that we are the party of Lincoln and offer a better path forward that emphasizes success through self-reliance," Craig said in a Thursday statement. "I look forward to discussing how my experiences growing up on the streets of Detroit, policing in major cities and bringing people together to solve problems led me to become a Republican."

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig is scheduled to give his first political speech Tuesday at a Jackson County Republican Party event.

The event will take place at the Under the Oaks memorial, which commemorates the site where a convention of anti-slavery men met on July 6, 1854, to form a political party.

For weeks, Craig has been privately participating in discussions with Republicans and others as he contemplates a campaign for the party's nomination for governor in 2022. It's likely to be a contested primary race with the winner challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Craig's experience leading the police department in Michigan's largest city and his reputation as a fighter have many within the GOP excited about his expected entry into the race. However, there are also unknowns about the former chief, including where he stands on key issues and how he'll handle questions about former President Donald Trump, who has become a political lightning rod.

During a formal announcement of his retirement on May 10 in Detroit, Craig said he's been a conservative for at least a decade. But he declined to respond to other questions related to politics.

"There will be a proper time and place for that," Craig said, "but it's not today." 

That time might be nearing.

Last week, during an appearance on Fox News, Craig said he continues to evaluate his future and "hopefully, within a few weeks, I should be making a statement on the decision."

So far, six Republicans have formed campaign fundraising committees to run for governor, including anti-lockdown activist and chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan and conservative commentator Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores.

Metro Detroit businessman Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township has said he's "seriously considering" running for governor. And former U.S. Senate candidate John James of Farmington Hills is another potential candidate whom Michigan Republicans are watching, but he has said little about his personal feelings about possibly running.

Whitmer is widely expected to seek a second term in 2022 although she hasn't formally announced yet. She won her first term in November 2018 by defeating then-Attorney General Bill Schuette by 9 percentage points.

cmauger@detroitnews.com

Staff Writer Christine Ferretti contributed.