James Craig, a Republican and the chief of the Detroit Police Department, is preparing a campaign against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), handing the GOP a high-profile contender in one of the midterm cycle’s marquee gubernatorial races.
According to reports from FOX 2, Detroit’s police chief since 2013, Craig, has spoken to both state and national Republican officials about a possible gubernatorial run.
His discussions have reportedly included Ron Weiser, the Michigan Republican Party chairman, as well as GOP Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, the chair of the Republican Governors Association.
Craig told the Detroit News, “I’m a lifelong public servant,” although he stopped short of confirming his candidacy. “I want to continue to serve.”
On Monday, Craig is will officially announce his retirement from the Detroit Police Department, followed by a news conference at which he will discuss his upcoming plans.
As the country has grappled with the debate on race and police brutality, Craig, who is black, has consistently defended law enforcement, but he also praised the conviction of Derek Chauvin last month and has said officers should be held “accountable for violating their oath and breaking the law.”
Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
“The one thing I can say is the justice system worked,” Craig said outside police headquarters in downtown Detroit the day of the verdict.
“It’s still a stain on our profession,” he said, adding that it is “not reflective” of all police.
“We had to deal with weeks and months of, at times, violent protests. But at the end of the day, the right thing was done,” Craig said.
Meanwhile, the police chief noted that Detroit police officers have a “very dangerous job,” and has praised them as “heroes.” Last month, Craig blasted progressive Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) after she said policing in the U.S. is “inherently & intentionally racist” and called for “no more policing” since the institution “can’t be reformed.”
“When you talk about vulnerable communities, they want effective and constitutional policing,” Craig said on Fox News. “So who is she speaking for? They are reckless, and she is doing it as a self-serving approach, and it doesn’t work.”
In the past, Craig has also defended the right of Detroit residents to own firearms in order to defend themselves against immediate danger, noting in 2014 that “folks are sick and tired of being victims.”
Before returning to lead the police department in his home city of Detroit, Craig served for many years as a police officer in Los Angeles. He also served as chief of the police departments in Cincinnati and Portland, Maine.
Craig has already attracted the support of some prominent Republican donors, including Dan Eberhart, who voiced his support for Craig’s potential candidacy on Twitter.
“Michigan deserves better, and James Craig, the current Chief of the Detroit PD, would be an excellent choice!” tweeted Eberhart.
Whitmer, who received fierce backlash for her strict coronavirus lockdown policies, has not announced her candidacy for reelection yet. Her approval rating has continued to sink, providing opportunities for potential candidates to launch bids against her.