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The Michigan GOP Has An Extremism Problem

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Insurrectionist Ryan Kelley joins governor’s race, crystallizing the state of the the Michigan Republican Party

Allendale Township official Ryan Kelley filed to run for Michigan governor as a Republican today. Kelley is facing calls for removal from his position after he was spotted at the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
This isn’t the first time Michiganders have called for Kelley’s removal from office – in October 2020, several groups called on Kelley to resign after it was revealed that Kelley had close ties to the militia members who plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Kelley organized a “Well-Regulated Militia” rally at the Michigan capitol in June, where the FBI alleges militia groups hatched the plan to kidnap Gov. Whitmer and attempted to recruit more members.
Kelley’s entrance to the race is a growing sign that the Michigan GOP is going to have an extremism problem on their hands, as more and more of their members are caught cozying up to far-right militia groups.
One of the more prominent faces of the MI GOP, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, held a meeting with militia groups in his office last summer during the armed protests at the Michigan statehouse, which are now being seen as a “dress rehearsal” for the deadly attack at the U.S. Capitol. Shirkey said he gave the extremist groups advice on “how they could improve their message.” And like Kelley, Shirkey also has ties to the group that plotted to kidnap the governor, appearing on stage with one of the militia members at a rally.
Austin Chenge, another GOP gubernatorial candidate, was with Kelley in supporting the violent mob at the Capitol. Chenge said the deadly insurrection was “all for the love of their country.”
“You are the company you keep – and the Michigan GOP has been palling around with far-right militia groups and insurrectionists,” said DGA Communications Director David Turner. “Ryan Kelley’s entrance to the governor’s race shows that far-right extremism is alive and well within the Michigan GOP, and next year, it will be on the ballot for governor. Michiganders won’t vote for someone who has put our democracy and the health and safety of others at risk.”