LANSING, Mich. — Money and politics go hand in hand and all eyes in Michigan Monday were on quarterly campaign filings, showing for the first time how much cash those vying for the GOP nomination for governor are bringing in.
Leading the pack is southwest Michigan anti-lockdown activist and chiropractor Garrett Soldano, who has raised nearly $625,000 since announcing his run in April.
“The greatest thing about this is the power of one can lead to the power of many,” said Soldano. “That is all pure grassroots, no PAC money, no dark money, that’s everybody's hard-earned money. We've had over 10,000 donations come in and I think the stat was 94% were under $200. So that just tells you that it is pure grassroots and we're very proud of that."
Soldano has far out-raised his competitors, more than tripling the $170,221 brought in by Oakland County Pastor Ralph Rebandt thus far.
Tudor Dixon, a mother of four and conservative media personality from Norton Shores, reported $132,000 in campaign donations since announcing her candidacy in late May.
“We were just talking about it being a snowball effect. I feel really good about the snowball that we're building and the excitement that we're building around our campaign,” said Dixon Saturday.
Meanwhile controversial Allendale Planning Commissioner Ryan Kelley has only taken in $35,000 since announcing his intention to run.
"That the top gubernatorial Republican managed to raise just $600k in three months is a clear reflection of Governor Whitmer’s strong leadership that kept Michiganders first as she worked to save lives, put our state back to work, and deliver one of the fastest economic recoveries in the Midwest," says Michigan Democratic Party Spokesperson Rodericka Applewhaite.
Regardless of what Republicans raise, they are going up against a record-level war chest compiled by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign, which has raised more than $8.6 million so far this year.
Soldano says Whitmer's level of funding doesn’t worry him.
“She can raise $500 million, it doesn't matter to the people of Michigan because she has hurt so many people, she has shut down so many businesses," Soldano said.
"Under normal circumstances, a first-time candidate showing that level of funding would indicate some potential for growth," says John Sellek, a longtime Republican consultant, and strategist in Michigan. "However, Michigan's state-level races became nationalized after Gov. Whitmer's battles with former President Trump helped elevate her across the country, including sketches on Saturday Night Live. That turned her campaign into a U.S. Senate-level fundraising machine which currently dwarfs anything we've ever seen in Michigan (outside of self-funding candidates). GOP candidates who can't put millions on the board will simply be unable to match the level of spending by Whitmer and the multitudes of third-party groups that will soon be descending on our state,” Sellek added.
A notable name off the list is former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who many have pointed to as a front-runner in the GOP race. Since James didn’t establish a campaign committee until last week, he does not have to disclose his fundraising totals until October.