What They’re Saying: “Michigan’s Republican Primary Is Shaping Up To Be One Of The Most Contentious,” Rogers’ Trump Criticism Is “Kryptonite”

Here’s what they’re saying: 

HuffPost: This Swing-State Senate Primary Will Test Whether Republicans Can Quit MAGA
By Liz Skalka
September 8, 2023

Key Points: 

  • Michigan, home to one of the most MAGA-crazed GOP bases in the country, is set to host the premier Senate showdown between loyalists to former President Donald Trump and establishment Republicans.
  • Rogers has to hope his rhetoric is enough to get Trump supporters to overlook some very clear baggage: Floating a possible 2024 presidential bid late last year, Rogers called Trump’s tactics “clearly destructive” and said the former president’s “time has passed.”

  • Ahead of Trump’s first indictment on charges including paying for the silence of a porn actor right before the 2016 election, Rogers suggested that Trump has too much going on legally to be running for president. “[Trump] has lots of issues to worry about and this might be a really good time for him to stop and focus on those issues and get all of that taken care of,” he told Fox News Digital in March.
  • “It’s not going to take a marquee candidate to beat Mike Rogers,” said Timmer, a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, suggesting that Rogers could even lose to little-known Michigan state board of education member Nikki Snyder, a Republican mounting a campaign focused on parental rights. “That’s how much the party has changed… his background, the things that made him stand out to Republican voters… those are kryptonite now in the GOP.”
  • The biggest threat to Rogers in the GOP would likely be former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who told HuffPost last week that he’s “99%” certain he’s launching a campaign in the coming weeks.
  • Craig is looking for another opportunity to run statewide, and his remarks to HuffPost suggest he’s open to becoming the MAGA torchbearer. Craig last week also published an opinion article in the conservative Daily Caller praising Trump’s “leadership,” earning himself a retweet from top Trump aide Jason Miller.
  • “Right now [Trump’s] the leading candidate on the GOP side by a pretty substantial margin,” Craig said. “I understand the indictments, but that’s what they are — they’re indictments. That’s what they are. He is innocent until proven guilty, and I firmly believe in that.”
  • It’s not clear if Rogers will even have the Trump skeptic lane to himself: Former Rep. Peter Meijer last week announced the launch of a Senate exploratory committee, putting him a step closer to joining the race. But Meijer, who was primaried out of office in 2022 after one term for voting to impeach Trump, could be little more than a protest candidate to a GOP electorate that still largely supports Trump amid his four criminal indictments.

The Messenger: Trump’s Endorsement Threatens to Complicate Michigan Senate Primary 
By Dan Merica and Matt Holt
September 7, 2023

Key Points: 

  • Donald Trump’s endorsement is tantalizingly up for grabs in Michigan’s Republican Senate primary. And James Craig, the former Detroit chief of police, knows it.
  • Michigan’s Republican primary is shaping up to be one of the most contentious in the country, with a slew of Republicans eyeing the race.

  • Former Rep. Mike Rogers announced his campaign on Wednesday and Peter Meijer, another former congressman, launched an exploratory committee last week. Both have been outspoken about their opposition to Trump – Meijer was one of ten House Republicans to vote for impeachment – making it nearly impossible that the former president endorses either.
  • Enter Craig, a more amorphous political figure who is clearly aware that his best path to victory is with Trump, someone who will spend considerable time and money in the state if he wins his party’s nomination for president next year. Craig has not announced a campaign but has told The Messenger he is “probably 99% certain” he will run.
  • Craig’s flirtations with the Trump lane began in a conversation with The Messenger last month and have been noticed by the former president’s orbit.
  • “I am not concerned about either candidate,” Craig told The Messenger last week in a phone interview when asked about Rogers and Meijer. “If I decide to do it, I believe I am the strongest candidate for U.S. senator.”
  • Asked about Trump, Craig added, “…I stand with him.” The next day, Craig expanded on these thoughts in an op-ed for the conservative website Daily Caller. Craig’s kind words for Trump have not gone unnoticed by Trump’s top aides and advisers – and, ostensibly, by Trump himself. Trump reposted the piece to his Truth Social account. 
  • “Michigan Republicans’ nasty primary will leave them with a badly damaged nominee who is out of touch with Michigan families and will struggle in the general election,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said when Rogers got into the race.
  • David Bergstein, a top operative with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, added, “The fight for Trump’s endorsement is going to make this already chaotic Republican primary even worse.”
  • [Rogers] has criticized Trump in the past on foreign policy and election integrity issues.
  • He once called Trump’s political tactics “destructive” and said Trump’s conduct leading to his first impeachment in 2019 was “highly inappropriate.”
  • Before he launched his Senate bid Rogers was considering running for president, and he would not commit to supporting [Trump] in 2024. 


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