Craig, who retired earlier this month after eight years as the top law enforcement official for Michigan’s largest city with 44 years in law enforcement, said in an interview with Fox News that he’s “encouraged” as he continues what he calls “the listening sessions.”
“I continue to be both flattered and humbled about the interest shown to me as a possible candidate for governor,” Craig emphasized.
Asked about his timetable to make a decision, Craig said “things are moving along at a great pace…I’m continuing the evaluation. I’m optimistic, hopefully within a few weeks I should be making a statement on the decision.”
James Craig announced his retirement after eight years as Detroit’s police chief and 44 years in law enforcement.
James confirmed that he’s held discussions with the Republican Governors Association (RGA), as well as GOP leaders in Michigan, as he moves closer to launching a bid to try and defeat Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who’s up for reelection next year.
“I’ve had conversations with members of the RGA and those conversations are continuing,” James said. And he added that he’s also in talks with “GOP leaders at the state level.”
One person he’s yet to directly talk with is former President Trump, who remains extremely popular with Republican voters as he keeps playing a kingmaker’s role in GOP primary politics and flirts with another White House run in 2024.
While confirming that he hasn’t connected with Trump on the phone, Craig said that “if the president supports me, I’m certainly going to accept it.”
Pointing to Trump, Craig said “I know that the president has made comments about me in the past as a sitting chief of police, relative to how we handled the days and weeks of protests here in Detroit…as I often say, Detroit did not burn. There was no looting.”
Craig, who is Black, started his policing career in Detroit before spending nearly three decades in Los Angeles and serving as police chief in Portland, Maine and Cincinnati, Ohio before returning to the city where he grew up.
As he announced his retirement last month, Craig emphasized that over the past year, amid the nationwide protests that rocked the country over the past year over racial inequity and cases of police brutality against minorities, the Detroit police department “didn’t retreat. The city did not burn and we are a model for the country.”
Asked about the rise in crime across the country over the past year, Craig said that “police officers are demoralized” and argued that “the defund (the police) movement has played a role.” And he added that “I’m unapologetic about for standing up for the vast majority of good and men women who served.”
Craig said he would spotlight the rise in crime if he runs for governor, saying “certainly that’s a big part of who I am. I think what’s sorely lacking today… is the absence of leadership.”
But the Democrat turned Republican said “I’m not going to put myself in a box and be viewed as a one-trick pony, if you will.”
If Craig declares his candidacy, he’ll join roughly half a dozen Republican candidates who’ve already launched campaigns.
Political handicappers suggest that Whitmer could face a challenging re-election in Michigan, a perennial battleground where now-President Biden narrowly defeated Trump last November, and Democratic Sen. Gary Peters edged out GOP challenger John James by a razor-thin margin.