Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig on Wednesday announced he was setting up what he described as an exploratory committee as he moves closer to running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Michigan.
"I’m opening an exploratory committee to help me think about a run for governor for the state of Michigan," Craig said in a campaign style video. "This is about leading from the front, keeping people safe, which is a core responsibility, solving problems, that’s what Michigan needs."
In a statement, Craig touted that "I led as chief of police — and began my life — on the streets of Detroit. Now it is time to travel the state, and visit other communities."
And taking aim at Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who’s running for reelection next year, Craig highlighted that he’ll "be talking with law enforcement, hosting small business roundtables, and meeting with voters in their homes to hear about the negative impact the current governor’s policies are having on their communities, their workplaces and their families."
A formal campaign launch by Craig is expected after Labor Day. Craig would join seven Republicans who are already running for governor, including conservative commentator Tudor Dixon and chiropractor and anti-lockdown activist Garrett Soldano.
Craig retired in early June after eight years as police chief for Michigan's largest city and 44 years in law enforcement. Craig, who is Black, started his policing career in Detroit before spending nearly three decades in Los Angeles and serving as police chief in Portland, Maine, and Cincinnati, Ohio, before returning to the city where he grew up.
Craig’s video on Wednesday spotlighted his career and focused on last year’s nationwide unrest over racial inequity and incidents of police brutality against minorities.
Asked about the rise in crime across the country over the past year, Craig said in an interview last month with Fox News that "police officers are demoralized" and argued that "the defund (the police) movement has played a role." And he added that "I’m unapologetic about for standing up for the vast majority of good and men women who served."
Craig said he would spotlight the rise in crime if he runs for governor, saying "certainly that’s a big part of who I am. I think what’s sorely lacking today… is the absence of leadership."
But the Democrat turned Republican said "I’m not going to put myself in a box and be viewed as a one-trick pony, if you will."
Republicans are targeting Whitmer as she runs for reelection, but defeating the incumbent Democrat won’t be easy. Whitmer’s campaign announced on Tuesday that the governor hauled in $8.5 million in fundraising so far this year, with $10 million cash on hand.
Fox News' Andrew Murray contributed to this story