LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Many Republicans running for Michigan governor, minus one big-name candidate, will meet in their first debate Thursday night.
Eight of 10 candidates will participate in the event organized and moderated by the Livingston County Republican Party and MIRS, a Lansing-based news outlet. One of the top contenders, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, will be absent due to a prior speaking commitment at the Mechanical Contractors Association’s annual meeting, according to his campaign.
"The chief looks forward to upcoming debates and opportunities to share his message with the voters," the campaign said.
MIRS said Craig committed to the debate before pulling out.
Craig "is once again showing working families that, to him, leading from the front really just means cowering on the sidelines," said Rodericka Applewhaite, spokesperson for the state Democratic Party.
Another debate, which has been sanctioned by the Michigan Republican Party, is planned for June 2 at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s policy conference on Mackinac Island.
The winner of the Aug. 2 primary will advance to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.
Three top GOP candidates, including Craig, are facing challenges to their petition signatures that, if successful, could keep them off the ballot.