Free Press poll: Kelley leading GOP gubernatorial field after arrest

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Free Press poll: Kelley leading GOP gubernatorial field after arrest

Arpan LoboPaul Egan

Detroit Free Press

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley’s recent arrest by the FBI for his suspected involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol appears to have boosted his name recognition and favorability among GOP voters in Michigan, new polling conducted in the days following his arrest indicates.

Kelley was arrested June 9. In a June 10-13 poll conducted for the Detroit Free Press and our outstate polling partners by EPIC-MRA of Lansing, 17% named Kelley as their preferred candidate for the August primary to determine which Republican candidate challenges Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Other Republicans vying for the party’s nomination garnered varying enthusiasm — 13% of respondents picked Kalamazoo-area chiropractor Garrett Soldano as their preferred candidate, 12% named Bloomfield Hills businessman Kevin Rinke, 5% touted Norton Shores businesswoman Tudor Dixon and 1% selected Farmington Hills pastor Ralph Rebandt.

A sizable chunk of Republican voters surveyed, 45%, remained undecided.  An additional 7% say they’re supporting a write-in candidate during the primary — former Detroit Police Chief James Craig has filed to run a write-in campaign after being disqualified from the primary ballot.

“At 45% still undecided, that means that the race is still wide open,” said EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn. “You’ve got three candidates that are very competitive, certainly within the margin of error.”

Kelley also had the highest total favorability and name recognition among Republican gubernatorial contenders; 39% of respondents said they viewed the Ottawa County real estate agent favorably.

More:Ryan Kelley arrested: 5 things to know about Michigan gubernatorial candidate

More:Federal criminal charges could help Ryan Kelley’s GOP campaign for governor

The poll was conducted from June 10 to June 13 over the phone, with a sample size of 400 respondents. Questions were asked by live interviewers, and 60% of surveys were conducted by cell phone. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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The poll is the first to be publicly released since Kelley’s arre.The GOP field has significantly narrowed in recent weeks, going from 10 candidates to five. Craig, Oakland County businessman Perry Johnson and three others failed to qualify for the primary ballot after an unprecedented amount of signatures submitted by the candidates were determined to be invalid.

Kelley’s FBI arrest sparks support from some likely voters

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