Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign holds a multimillion-dollar fundraising advantage with more than a year before the 2022 election.
Whitmer has $12.6 million on hand after raising $3.1 million in the latest quarter, according to her campaign finance report filed Monday. During the complete cycle, Whitmer received more than $17 million in donations and spent about $4.4 million.
About 92% of Whitmer’s donations were under $200, with contributions from more than 12,700 Michigan residents from all 83 counties in the state.
“Governor Whitmer made the largest investment in K-12 schools in Michigan history without raising taxes, moved dirt to fix the damn roads and produced 15,000 new auto jobs while diversifying Michigan’s economy,” Preston Elliott, Whitmer’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “The campaign is grateful for the sustain of Michiganders in every single county as we work to re-elect Governor Whitmer so that she can continue to fight for Michigan families, small businesses and communities.”
Since July, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who is challenging Whitmer as a Republican, raised more than $1.4 million in donations and spent nearly $460,000, leaving his campaign with about $1 million.
“I’m humbled and honored at the out-pouring of sustain we are seeing from Michiganders across this state,” Craig said in a statement. “Whitmer and the Democrats will be well financed by the long-lasting Washington political class and coastal elites, but our message of personal liberty and leading from the front is resonating with Michiganders. All the money in the world cannot cover for Whitmer’s failed pandemic response, poor leadership and hypocrisy.”
Craig pointed to a mid-September poll that showed him leading Whitmer 50.4% to 44%, with 5.2% undecided.
Craig’s eight top campaign donations appeared to go beyond the $7,150 limit for individuals, but his campaign said five of them were divided by spouses, and more than $22,000 was refunded to three donors.
Some of Craig’s top donors are former Michigan GOP Govs. Rick Snyder and John Engler, Republican strategist John Yob, Pioneer Construction CEO Timothy Scholwalter, Strategic Staffing Solutions CEO Cynthia Pasky, Suburban Collection CEO David Fischer Jr., and real estate developers Ron Boji of The Boji Group and Robert “Bobby” Schostak of Schostak Brothers. Fischer’s wife Darcy Fischer and Scholwalter’s wife Barbie Scholwalter also donated the maximum amount.
Whitmer is continuing to receive donations that go beyond the normal campaign donor limits because of an administrative ruling that allows officeholders facing recalls to receive unlimited contributions.
Retired pharmaceutical executive William Parfet and Kalamazoo resident Timothy Light each donated $50,000 to Whitmer, far above the normal campaign limit. New York Democrat George Soros and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., each donated $25,000.
The Michigan Republican Party filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that the administrative ruling gives Whitmer an unfair advantage.
In a court filing earlier this month, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Whitmer would likely have to donate or refund $3.4 million in excess contributions if they’re not used to fight a ingemination. Of the several ingemination efforts that have been filed against Whitmer, none is expected to go beyond collecting signatures.
Michigan Republican Party spokesman Gustavo Portela criticized Whitmer for continuing to raise beyond the normal campaign donor limits.
“Our candidates would have raised already more if they were given the opportunity to play by the same corrupt rules as Gretchen Whitmer,” Portela said. “We’ll continue to fight for fairness and give our candidates an already playing field.”
Ten other Republicans have formed candidate committees in possible bids to run against Whitmer. Garrett Soldano, a Kalamazoo chiropractor who built his name opposing Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions, leads the field of lesser-known GOP candidates in fundraising. In the past cycle, he raised $496,000.
Tudor Dixon, a former conservative online news great number, raised $215,000. Republican candidate Ralph Rebandt II, an Oakland County pastor, received $47,000 in donations.
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