JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson County Republicans gathered at Under the Oaks park to celebrate the 167th birthday of the Republican party with retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig as the keynote speaker.
State Reps. Julie Alexander, R-Hanover, and Sarah Lightner, R-Springport, also spoke along with state Senator Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.
“Elections have consequences something we all know all too well. We need leadership with integrity. Leadership that has been tested and tried," Shirkey said.
It was Craig who stole the show. He spoke on why he switched party affiliations 10 years ago and hit on traditional Republican viewpoints including protecting the police force, being pro-life, and supporting the second amendment.
Before he left the stage he took a parting shot at Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
"We must ensure this nation and our great state of Michigan remains free from tyranny and oppression in order to protect the many things that make his great. Make no mistake at the ballot box in November in the year 2022 we will be celebrating our independence from the rule of Governor Whitmer," Craig said.
Yet, he left the stage leaving his supporters hanging about his own plans to run.
“I'm sure everyone was anticipating and hoping for a lot more. I wouldn’t be surprised and my feelings wouldn’t be hurt if James Craig declared his candidacy for the governor," said Jackson County Republican Party Executive Board member James Minnick, Jr.
“I’ve shown up to the Under the Oaks event every year and for the last 10 years at least and maybe longer...but this is the largest crowd. Everyone is curious. People want to know who he is, why he is running for governor or potentially running for governor and what are his positions," Republican consultant Linda Lee Tarver said.
If he does run, some believe he has what it takes to win over Detroit, which is crucial in deciding gubernatorial races in Michigan.
“The citizens of Detroit love Chief Craig. He is a symbol of unity, a symbol of leadership to them, maybe a port in a storm or an answer to prayers," Vesco Oil Corporation owner Lena Rose Epstein said.
Michigan Democratic Party officials issued a statement saying, "as expected James Craig spoke without disclosing much more about where he stands on the issues trying to have it both ways embracing Trump while once again refusing to condemn The Big Lie."
They called on state GOP officials such as Shirkey, co-chairs Ron Weiser and Meshawn Maddock to see "if their cherry-picked candidate can land the lines he's told to deliver in what's already looking like a rigged primary for those that have actually launched their campaigns."
Six other Republicans have officially announced their candidacy.
Want to see more local news? Visit the FOX47News Website.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox.
Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines, and Daily Forecasts.