Soon after James Craig makes his anticipated announcement Monday that he is retiring as Detroit’s chief police after eight years, sources in Michigan told Newsmax, the Motor City’s “cop’s cop” will declare his candidacy against Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The news that Craig — 64, black, and a career policeman — would suddenly jump into politics was a surprise to the political punditocracy in Michigan.
But our sources within the Michigan Republican Party said that the lawman Detroit residents simply refer to as “the Chief” began to catch GOP eyes with the growing number of appearances he made on Fox News.
State GOP Chairman Ron Weiser and Republican Governors Association Chairman and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey reportedly held meetings with Craig and assured him to take on Whitmer.
“If a policeman is under attack, Chief Craig is the first to stand by him — provided he knows he’s right,” Rocky Raczkowski, veteran Oakland County GOP activist and popular WJR-Radio (Detroit) talk show host, told us, “But if that officer is in the wrong, the chief will let him have it. People know he’s an honest man.”
Craig, who joined the Detroit Police Department out of college, rose through its ranks. Following stints as police chief of Cincinnati and then Portland, Maine, he was tapped to become the “top cop” of his home city in 2013.
Because of her handling of the corona crisis — notably enforcing strict “lockdowns” and insisting on virtual schools — Whitmer is considered vulnerable in 2022.
Michigan Republicans have a history of nominating Blacks for top statewide office. In 1986, having switched from Democrat to Republican, Wayne County Executive Bill Lucas became the first Republican nominee for governor anywhere who happened to be black. John James, West Point graduate and businessman, was the first black to carry Michigan’s Republican U.S. Senate nominee in 2018 and ’20.
Police chiefs have an excellent record of winning citywide and local offices. Frank Rizzo of Philadelphia, Jerry Sanders of San Diego, and Ben DiLieto of New Haven, CT., are just a few of the former police chiefs who left the force to become mayors of their cities.
The late Fred Heineman, police chief of Raleigh, N.C., served in Congress from 1995-1997 and former Los Angeles (CA) Police Chief Ed Davis was a longtime Republican state senator. It is in winning statewide office that police chiefs have difficulties.
California’s Davis, for example, lost a primary for governor in 1978 and then two years later won his state senate seat.
“They start with certain inherent advantages,” Bill Ballenger, editor of the much-read, on-line “Ballenger Report” newsletter on Michigan politics. “If they prove to be adept campaigners, look out! That said, the last time Michigan Republicans ran a Detroit police chief against an incumbent Democratic governor — Donald Leonard taking on [G. Mennon] ‘Soapy’ Williams in 1954 — he got shellacked.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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