1) Question: Last Tuesday, 14 months prior to the 2022 election, former Detroit police chief James CRAIG announced that he’s running for the Republican nomination for governor. The event, held on Detroit’s Belle Isle, was overwhelmed by antifa/Black Lives Matter protesters who stormed the podium and forced Crag and his supporters to retreat to another location. Craig’s turbulent kickoff got massive media coverage and went viral, most of it in a decidedly negative way. The press depicted it as a “catastrophe” for the Craig campaign. But was it? Craig’s main “handler,” John Yob, insisted that what happened was actually “planned” deliberately, to take advantage of a ‘law and order’ candidate being ‘trashed’ by an out-of-control left wing mob, which is exactly why Craig claims he is running — because he’s the ‘stand-up’ guy Michigan needs to support the police and law enforcement. Also, the image of Craig on national TV being hounded by Black far-left socialists may result in a windfall of campaign cash for the victimized Craig. Was this just Yob ‘spinning” and trying to create, ex post facto, a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Or did Craig and Yob get exactly what they had hoped for?
ANSWER: Craig and his campaign team were eager to charge out of the gate leading up to this week’s Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting on Mackinac Island, and, even more importantly, the biennial Republican Leadership Conference this coming week-end on the same idyllic island spa, empowering Craig with some “mo” as he hits the ground running. Was his aborted Belle Isle announcement the best way to do that? Probably not. He could have achieved the same outcome without the messiness and controversy that ensued if the mob had been controlled and been more of a backdrop than the centerpiece of the story. The main question is whether ‘law and order’ will really be the central issue of the gubernatorial campaign during the next year. If it is, that’s a natural advantage for Craig, the quintessential cop. However, there is every reason to believe that ‘law and order’ will NOT be the focus of the news media’s and general public’s attention in 2022, and that brings us back to the original doubts and questions about Craig’s candidacy — is he the right man for the job of governor at a time when so many other issues will be front-and-center? So far, Craig simply hasn’t made it clear that he’s ‘up to speed’ on all the other major issues. It’s still early, and there is plenty of time for Craig to show that he ‘s got the ‘right stuff’ to win the GOP nomination and take on a deeply flawed and comparatively unpopular governor. He’ll have a chance to get started on that on Mackinac Island, assuming he shows up there. How he performs at Mackinac, and how he is perceived by the assembled GOP, should be critical, and he can help himself by putting the Belle Isle brouhaha behind him and refocusing the public’s attention on what really matters to the voters.
2) Question: Strategically speaking, do GOP lawmakers gain any advantages by waiting until after this week’s two Mackinac conferences to finish the state budget?
ANSWER: Republicans want maximum attention focused on THEIR Mackinac Conference, and the party will resist anything — like the state budget and the news media’s obsession with it — that detracts from that. How majority Republican legislators handle that issue this week will be important. Will the final votes be taken and a massive FY 2021-’22 spending document be sent to the governor? Will it matter in the long run, one way or the other? Remember, the general public has never paid much attention to the budget. A half-century ago, the last piece of the budget didn’t pass until days before Christmas, and that was when the fiscal year began on July 1, not October 1. Most recently, the capital press corps went nearly hysterical in both 2007 and 2009 when the Legislature and Gov. Jennifer Granholm failed to complete the budget by October 1, although they did so within hours after the deadline. That development had zero impact on the elections the following years, 2008 and 2010. In the former, Democrats routed the GOP; in the latter, the Republicans won in a landslide. The budget wars of the previous years had faded from the public’s memory and they had no impact on the results.
3) Question: Will President Joe BIDEN’s call for COVID-19 vaccination mandates make things easier or more difficult for Gov. Gretchen WHITMER?
ANSWER: More difficult, but whether that will really matter in the larger scheme of things is the question. The President has ‘doubled down’ on getting Americans (including Michiganders) to get vaccines, while Gretchen Whitmer has most recently emphasized voluntary compliance with anti-COVID strictures, including mask-wearing and vaccines. She’s not on the same page with Joe Biden on this issue, at least for now. She wants Michiganders to forget about her draconian mandates last year that fomented deep anti-Whitmer anger. Biden isn’t helping her do that, but six months from now will this even be a topic of conversation? Only if Biden’s poll numbers continue to tank, and the Republicans keep reminding voters that Whitmer has been his biggest champion beginning in 2020.
4) Question: Is the following statement true or untrue? Although there were serious problems (including some well publicized) at Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) long before the frustrations experienced due to the pandemic, the Whitmer administration will receive all of the blame.
ANSWER: If this were a Republican administration, yes, they’d get all the blame. Since Whitmer is a Democrat, she and her minions will suffer less, since the news media will by and large cut her as much slack as they can. That said, there is the linkage between the UIA bungling and Whitmer’s mandatory ‘lockdowns’ going back a year and a half that cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. The electorate is aware of that, and Republicans can continue to blast Whitmer along the lines of “You created massive unemployment in this state when you didn’t have to, and then your UIA couldn’t even get the economic safety net that had been installed for these jobless workers to function properly. You have exacerbated needless suffering through sheer incompetence.”