Poll: After Michigan Candidates Purge, Ryan Kelley Leads GOP Race for Governor

May 28, 2022, 8:28 AM by  Allan Lengel

Ryan Kelley (Campaign photo)

The GOP contest for Michigan governor has changed radically now that James Craig, Perry Johnson and three others are bounced from the ballot for alleged signature forgeries. 

A new poll shows that a relatively unknown candidate, Allendale real estate agent Ryan Kelley, who was at the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, leads his party's primary race with 19-percent support.

He's followed by Kevin Rinke with 15 percent, Tudor Dixon with 9 percent, Garrett Soldano with 6 percent and Ralph Rebandt with 1 percent.

It's a fluid contest as voters get acquainted with who's out, who's in and who they are. Of the 400 people polled late this week, 49 percent said they were still undecided.

The poll, conducted jointly Thursday and Friday by Target Insyght and Michigan Information and Research Service after the five candidates were bounched from the ballot, has an error margin of plus or minus 5 percent.

"After almost a year of campaigning, the GOP has five candidates who are relatively unknown, causing 49 percent of the Republicans to be undecided with less than a month before absentee voting starts," said Ed Sarpolus, executive director of Target Insyght.

"Nobody is out of this race. Whoever spends the most money to build their name recognition is probably going to win the primary."

Tudor Dixon and friend (Photo: Her campaign)


Sarpolus thinks so many people favor Kelley because he has a recognizable last name in Michigan politics, rather than actually knowing who he is.   

Kelley did earn recognition for  organizing support against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Covid orders.

Kelley was one of five Republicans invited to debate next Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference, but he backed out in protest of requirements to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.

Donald Trump hasn't yet endorsed a gubernatorial candidate in Michigan. However, he appeared with Dixon at a Mar-a-Lago campaign fundraiser in February and praised her as "fantastic" and "very popular" at a Macomb rally in Washington Township last month.

Dick and Betsy DeVos, big names in Michigan Republican circles, endorsed Dixon last Monday. 

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