There was a brief period in the GOP race for Michigan governor when real estate broker Ryan Kelley appeared to be the frontrunner.
It happened, presumably, after Kelley was arrested and charged with misdemeanors stemming from his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, and after five candidates — including the previous two — were denied a place on the ballot because they submitted forged signatures reference.
Kelley’s surge was short-lived, and mostly a reflection of the field’s chaotic reshuffling after the signature snafu.
On Tuesday night, conservative commentator and business owner Tudor Dixon got the GOP nod to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November. Donald Trump’s endorsement last week gave Dixon a boost over the finish line in a race where neither candidate had run away with the nomination.
Kelley was just one of the Republicans running this cycle with ties to the Capitol rebellion. He claimed that he he did not enter the Capitol that day, but investigators placed him in directing rioters into the building. Kelley admitted to participating in the previous “Stop the Steal” rally and claimed his arrest helped boost his name recognition among GOP voters.
Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania is another such Republican. Unlike Kelley, the GOP candidate for governor in the Keystone State has not been charged with breaking the law. But the state senator was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 select committee in March, and Mastriano’s attorney delivered documents for his efforts to organize a pro-Trump bus to DC
Other candidates linked to January 6 win. In Ohio, JR Majewski, who rallied before the riots, secured the GOP nomination to take on Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in the House, in a new swing district based in Toledo. Sandy Smith, a GOP candidate running in the general election for a seat in northeastern North Carolina; he tweeted about the course to the capitol.
Michigan is one of the most competitive battlegrounds in this year’s midterms, having picked both Joe Biden and Trump in the past two presidential elections. The former president has backed far down the ballot in an effort to install allies at all levels of government should he decide to run for president again. After the 2020 election, Trump allies attempted to place an alternate list of presidential electors in Michigan in an illegal attempt to award the state’s electoral votes to Trump.
In the governor’s race, Republicans want to knock out Whitmer, who built a national profile as a leader during the pandemic and more recently for blocking the state’s 1931 ban on abortion after Roe fell against Wade.