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For The Week Of September 12, 2021 Through September 18, 2021

Craig Campaign Claims Win From Rocky Gov Kickoff – But Will It Work?

By Jordyn Hermani
Staff Writer
Posted: September 17, 2021 4:59 PM

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.

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Political Newsweek Almost A Storm Before Calm As Budget Looms

By Nick Smith
Staff Writer
Posted: September 17, 2021 1:51 PM

Well, this was quite the week in Michigan state politics, wasn't it?

One can take their pick as to where to begin with the spike in newsy events in Lansing and in the political sphere this week, ranging from the typically contentious to outright bizarre.

Ironically, the biggest matter on the agenda this month that might be expected to be marked by numerous twists and turns, the state budget, was not among those items that caused a stir of controversy. Maybe that's next week when the details emerge?

This week saw something that rarely has happened in Michigan: two members of the Legislature were stripped of committee assignments in the same week. Granted, it happened less than a year ago with Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) and Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair), but still.

In the case of Rep. Jewell Jones (D-Inkster), he was removed from committees as the fallout from his alleged drunken driving incident went from bad to worse, reaching a climax this week when he allegedly brought a handcuff key to jail with him.

Then there is the removal of Rep. Steve Marino (R-Harrison Township) from his committees when allegations from Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) emerged of possible abuse during a now-ended relationship and alleged threats. The Department of State Police is in the early stages of an investigation.

These incidents alone would constitute a heavy week of news. But there was still a deluge outside of all of this.

There was the chaotic gubernatorial campaign kickoff by Republican James Craig on Belle Isle drowned out by protestors, prompting a debate over whether it was a disaster or a great opportunity to garner media attention and rally the party's base over the visuals of what transpired.

On Tuesday alone, there was a sharp debate over Senate GOP bills that would ban mask and vaccine mandates in K-12 schools, a House hearing abruptly canceled on legislation regarding identification being offered to undocumented persons, the chance of successful mediation on the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline came into question, conservative groups filed new campaign finance complaints against Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R-Independence Township) announced she has been undergoing treatment for recurrent cancer.

There's also been the continued slog by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to complete draft legislative and U.S. House maps. A coalition of parent groups also announced a push to get the state to issue a mask mandate for K-12 schools.

Yet through all of this, the budget deal announcement hardly made a ripple.

At this point a major question is whether this week was a storm before calm of sorts ahead of finalizing the budget next week.

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