FBI Arrest Backfires for Michigan Democrats

With its recent history in the state, one would expect the FBI to shy away from intervening too openly in Michigan politics, but the bureau has thrown caution to the wind by arresting leading Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley at the most opportune of moments for the Democrats. Instead of ending his campaign, however, Kelley’s arrest has led Michigan Republicans to rally around his candidacy and give him an edge in the upcoming primary.

FBI arrests Republican candidate

The FBI infamously arranged a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. The scheme was so blatantly orchestrated that a rare entrapment defense succeeded for the non-federal agent individuals implicated.

The bureau isn’t finished with Michigan apparently. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested by the FBI on June 9 in relation to January 6.

The immediately obvious question is why it took so long for Kelley to be arrested when so many others were rounded up by the feds almost immediately for their parts in January 6.

It strains credulity to suggest that the government conveniently became aware of Ryan Kelley’s presence at the Capitol just when he was poised to win a gubernatorial nomination.

Given what is known about the political leanings of the FBI, it would be naïve to imagine that the bureau didn’t time its arrest at the most opportune moment for the party it favors.

Kelley, for what it’s worth, denies committing any crime and says that he did nothing wrong on January 6. Innocent or not, he has every reason to believe that the timing of the arrest was politically motivated.

Suspicious timing

The aspiring governor is collecting donations for his legal fight that will be separate from his campaign fund, but financial contributions to both are only rising with news of the stunning arrest.

Kelley is expected to surge in the polls as Republicans protest the timing of the arrest and back a candidate who they believe is being unjustly targeted for political reasons.

News that a candidate had been arrested by the FBI would have been enough to sink a campaign a decade ago; now it isn’t particularly devastating given the bureau’s reputation.

Michigan Republicans agree that most of the party’s voters will see the arrest as a witch hunt against a rising candidate, meaning that it is likely to do little more than further erode trust in federal law enforcement.

This is particularly noticeable as Ryan Kelley has made election integrity a central part of his platform. Kelley is one of the rare Republicans who stood up to the BLM rioters in 2020, and he is now standing up to the FBI.

Democrats may not have counted on that defiant attitude. Michigan Republicans are, if anything, taking interest in a candidate they may not have been aware of previously.

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