Republican Party activists in Michigan are pushing for rock musician Robert James Ritchie, known as Kid Rock, to jump into the 2018 U.S. Senate race to defeat incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
First reported by the Detroit Free Press, momentum has grown for a Ritchie candidacy among the Tea Party and anti-establishment wings of the party.
Wes Nakagiri, a county co-chair of President Donald Trump’s Michigan campaign, told The Daily Caller News Foundation there is a movement behind the scenes to get someone like Ritchie into the race.
“Trump defeated Clinton using enthusiasm and excitement at the grassroots level,” Nakagiri told TheDCNF. “I think someone like Kid Rock could tap into that same energy to defeat Debbie Stabenow and her big money establishment backers.”
Stabenow was elected in 2000, and has successfully beat back attempts by the GOP to take the seat. Recent U.S. Senate elections in Michigan have favored the Democrats, even as the Republicans dominated state politics and congressional seats.
In 2012, Stabenow defeated former Rep. Pete Hoekstra by nearly one million votes (58 percent to 39 percent). In 2014, Democrat Gary Peters defeated Republican candidate Terry Lynn Land by 13 points, even as Republicans held on to the governorship and other offices down ballot. Stabenow enjoys huge support from donors in the Metro-Detroit area; it would take an exciting candidate to convince Republican donors to come back on board after disappointing Senate losses in 2012 and 2014.
Diane Schindlbeck, a state committeewoman for the Michigan Republican Party, told TheDCNF that she had never been involved in politics before Trump. She is now a party official because she wanted to “make sure that his bold vision continues in Michigan.”
“Just like Donald Trump, we need someone that is bold and not scared. Not someone who is going to bend down to try and please everyone,” Schindlbeck told TheDCNF. “If Kid Rock jumped into the race, I would be making calls and organizing the efforts to elect him, I am his number one fan.”
Consultants in Michigan stressed the amount of time, energy and work it takes to run for U.S. Senate.
“Whether it’s a celebrity candidate or an outsider candidate, they always bring in excitement,” Stu Sandler, a consultant with Michigan-based Grand River Strategies, told TheDCNF. “The question is, ‘Who is willing to get into the race and put in the hard work?’” he said. “Kid Rock would be an exciting candidate, but I have not seen any indication that he wants to run, but the fact that there is a lot of interest in this race tells us that we can beat Stabenow.”
Not everyone in the anti-establishment wing of the Michigan Republican party is on board with a Ritchie candidacy.
“I think Kid Rock has too much baggage with the cussing and drinking … unless he’s come to Jesus,” conservative activist and local conservative radio personality Trucker Randy told TheDCNF. “I like Ted Nugent,” he concluded.
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