LANSING, MI – Last month’s petition signature fraud scandal was already a massive jolt to Michigan’s gubernatorial race when it threw five of 10 Republican candidates off the ballot. Then, on Thursday, came the FBI with something completely different.
Federal agents arrested GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley at his Allendale home Thursday morning on four charges related to his attendance at the U.S. Capitol riot in 2021. Although misdemeanors, each of Kelley’s alleged crimes carry up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine if he is convicted.
Hours later on Thursday night, one of the candidates for governor kicked off the ballot, once-frontrunner and former Detroit police chief James Craig, announced he is mounting a write-in campaign for the Aug. 2 primary.
Here’s everything you need to know about this week in Michigan politics.
Gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley arrested by FBI, home searched
Kelley, a real estate agent and Allendale Township planning commissioner, is technically the GOP frontrunner, as the latest poll from late May gave him a 19% share of likely primary voters.
The FBI raided Kelley’s home Thursday and charged him with four misdemeanors related to unlawfully remaining on the U.S. Capitol grounds and helping other Jan. 6 rioters who were tearing down barricades. Kelley previously told MLive, in March 2021, he only had limited involvement at the Capitol.
Related: Read the FBI’s complaint against GOP governor candidate Ryan Kelley
The federal investigation into Kelley began just days after the riot, when an unnamed person submitted a tip. In the following months, the FBI compiled photos and videos of Kelley’s involvement and interviewed local officials and personal connections to identify him.
Kelley’s campaign Facebook account declared him a “political prisoner” before a federal judge in Grand Rapids released him on a personal recognizance bond. Some of the other Republican gubernatorial candidates spoke out about Kelley’s arrest, claiming it was politically motivated because Congress’ televised Jan. 6 hearings began Thursday night.
Related: Supporters rally at courthouse as Ryan Kelley faces charges related to Jan. 6 riot
Craig will run for governor as write-in; Johnson wants to stop ballot printing
A month ago, the race for governor looked very different. But after being kicked off the ballot, candidates James Craig and Perry Johnson are planning their next moves.
“I’m not giving up. They have robbed me. And guess what — write-in,” Craig said Thursday night on a FOX 2 Detroit program. He was joined by Johnson, who filed a federal lawsuit earlier in the week, asking a court to stop Michigan’s ballot printing.
“The only issue we have is that they want to start printing the ballots tomorrow,” Johnson said on FOX 2. “And we asked for a stay. So, I’m hoping the judge grants that stay because at the hearing before they said there’s not enough paper to print another set of ballots.”
Related: Michigan sends out absentee ballots soon. Here’s how to get one.
Craig, Johnson and three other Republican gubernatorial candidates were disqualified in May after state election officials determined at least 68,000 fraudulent signatures had been submitted with the candidates’ nominating petitions, leaving them under the minimum valid signatures required to appear on the ballot.
Personal finance would be a required class under bill headed to governor’s desk
The Michigan Legislature was also this week voting on bills that made headlines. A raucous abortion-rights protest in the House chamber also made headlines as it disrupted legislative business for nearly 30 minutes on Wednesday.
Related: Republicans step in to defend Michigan’s abortion ban in court
One bill passed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday would require Michigan high school students take a personal finance class to graduate. The proposal passed the House 94-13 with nearly 40 Democrats supporting.
“I believe teaching our young adults to get out into the world, to know about things such as borrowing, savings, budgeting, managing credit and more, is very essential for them to be able to make the decisions they need to make for the rest of their lives,” said sponsoring state Rep. Diana Farrington (R-Utica).
State lawmakers this week also advanced bills to ban school curriculum with gender or race stereotyping and criminalize using fake urine to cheat employer drug screens. And a state senator introduced a constitutional amendment to let some 17-year-olds vote in primary elections.
Whitmer signed a bill this week to make unsafe left turns a civil infraction, and she requested federal aid this week for Gaylord residents affected by May’s tornado.
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