Jun 13, 2022 - Politics

Republican primary nears without clear favorite

Illustration of several versions of the elephant from the Republican Party logo stampeding and kicking up dust.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The GOP primary race has flipped upside down.

Driving the news: Two disqualified candidates once seen as front runners, James Craig and Perry Johnson, have launched write-in campaigns, while three other candidates who started as fringe outsiders now lead the pack.

What they're saying: "I'm not giving up. They have robbed me. They have robbed Perry," Craig told WJBK-TV's "Let it Rip."

  • Johnson acknowledged on the program that winning would be "very difficult, practically speaking. People have a hard time remembering the name."
  • He also referenced Mayor Mike Duggan's successful write-in campaign, but confessed he and Craig face an uphill battle. "I think you have to get on the ballot. That's why I filed in the federal court," Johnson said.

The latest: Tudor Dixon, Garrett Soldano and Ryan Kelley now have the most grassroots support out of the five remaining candidates, with Kevin Rinke and Ralph Rebrandt still in the race.

  • Kelley, 40, was recently arrested and charged with four misdemeanor counts stemming from his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.
  • "If you didn't know my name a couple of days ago, you know it now Kelley told MLive following his arrest.

What's next: Candidates are vying for an endorsement from former President Trump. With Johnson off the ballot, many believe Dixon is Trump's favorite.

  • Dixon's relationship with Betsy DeVos' family could affect her chances for a Trump endorsement because of the former education secretary's disapproval of Jan. 6.
  • Plus, political strategists believe Republicans' united support of Kelley against the FBI's allegations could actually bolster his campaign.
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