Craig Campaign Claims Win From Rocky Gov Kickoff – But Will It Work?
It would be hard to miss what happened this week with former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and his first major campaign swing as a Republican candidate for governor.
What one would expect to be the typical ceremonial pomp and circumstance of a campaign announcement was mired early Tuesday by Detroit Will Breath protesters at Belle Isle who overran any attempt Mr. Craig could have made to salvage what became a few-sentence announcement.
In later comments at a different location, Mr. Craig sought to save face by saying the protesters were paid, that the Michigan State Police should have responded to the protesters and blamed the Department of Natural Resources for failing to secure a perimeter for his event, as it was located on state grounds.
He capped the night with a showing on the Tucker Carlson Show, where he blamed Governor Gretchen Whitmer for the Belle Isle debacle, implying that she was somehow responsible for the lack of oversight exhibited Tuesday as – in her capacity as governor – she oversaw both the Department of State Police and the DNR.
Even as it had all the appearances of a remarkable debacle, the message from the Craig campaign and some Republicans was that Mr. Craig – a Black man and former police chief – displayed perseverance in the face of a liberal movement attempting to discredit his gubernatorial campaign. He was calm and attitude in the face of more radical leftism, and the B-roll from the day would make great footage as to how he could stand up to the lawless and disorderly.
Except, most of what Mr. Craig is alleging is either completely unfounded or outright untrue.
Multiple outlets including the Detroit News, the Deadline Detroit and Gongwer reported that DNR officials initially reached out to Mr. Craig's campaign, to make sure they had the necessary permits to have their event. Mr. Craig's campaign also confirmed with the DNR that it understood the agency would not be providing crowd control for the event and acknowledged liability.
A text exchange shared by DNR spokesperson Ed Golder between he and Craig spokesperson Ted Goodman and Scott Pratt, chief of southern field operations for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, outlined as much.
"It was just commented on local 2 that your party told them that DNR was supposed to provide crowd control and that was never our agreement," Mr. Pratt told Mr. Goodman.
Mr. Goodman responded: "I did not tell them anything about crowd control. Not on you guys. We know."
Additional texts later provided by policical consultant John Yob shows that Mr. Pratt did acknoweldge the department "would be prepared" and was "used to handling these," going as far as to say that protesters "will not be allowed on your reservation site." When protesters did overtake the press conference just after 10 a.m., Mr. Pratt said that CO's were enroute as was state police, however the event in its entirety had broken up by the time of arrival.
As for the idea behind paid protesters, when pressed about his comments Mr. Craig acknowledged that he didn't know for certain, only that he had a feeling the people were paid.
"I don't have any hard evidence," he said, as reported by WDET, "but I feel like they were paid."
And regarding the idea that Ms. Whitmer ordered the State Police or DNR away from the scene, there's again no evidence to support that, as bolstered by Mr. Golder's remarks that the Craig campaign acknowledged and accepted the risks there would be no DNR security on premise.
State Police were also eventually called to Belle Isle due to a 911 call alleging out of control protestors, however as reported by the News, by the time officers did show up there was nothing more than 40 or so protestors which they deemed as acting peaceably.
The allegation against the State Police and DNR, based on no evidence, is extraordinary. Yes, their department directors are Whitmer appointees but for many decades the rank-and-file officers have never been accused of playing politics.
Depending on where you stand on the spectrum of media consumption, Tuesday ends up looking like a tale of two kickoffs.
Without the full details – and contingent on your preferred political lens – people will either see his kickoff as being woefully underprepared for protest efforts or unfairly overrun and shouted down by provocateurs. It will either end up being a showing of Mr. Craig being unprepared to the point that a handful of demonstrators could abruptly ended his announcement, or proof that higher political powers consider him enough of a threat to organize paid protestors and stymie police.
Even Republican consultants are split, with some believing yesterday to be poorly planned, poorly managed a poor reflection of Mr. Craig's talents. Others insist the media attention garnered from this is what's most important, generating controversy which guarantees continued coverage of his campaign and connects with the Republican base.
In any instance, it will take some time before we know whether this will serve as a blessing for Mr. Craig or the first sign he is not ready for prime time.Back to top