Kid Rock: ‘Devil’ with a cause or just midterm side at­trac­tion Singer says he’s tak­ing se­ri­ous look at Se­nate

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SALLY PER­SONS

Kid Rock’s path to the Se­nate may turn out to be a lonely road of faith.

The singer, whose birth name is Robert James Ritchie, is the lat­est celebrity to take a look at run­ning for fed­eral of­fice, eye­ing the Michi­gan seat held by Demo­cratic Sen. Deb­bie Stabenow.

He says he is tak­ing it se­ri­ously.

“As part of the ex­cite­ment sur­round­ing this pos­si­ble cam­paign, I de­cided to take a hard look to see if there was real sup­port for me as a can­di­date and my mes­sage, or if it was just be­cause it was a fresh new news story,” Mr. Ritchie said in a state­ment.

Af­ter a body­builder and ac­tion-movie star won the gov­er­nor­ship in Cal­i­for­nia,

a “Satur­day Night Live” comic sits in one of Min­nesota’s Se­nate seats and a re­al­ity TV star oc­cu­pies the White House, Mr. Ritchie’s path is well-trod­den.

And like Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, Al Franken and Pres­i­dent Trump, he may have to over­come a lineup of more tra­di­tional can­di­dates if he wants to reach Wash­ing­ton.

Mr. Ritchie said his first goal will be to pro­mote voter reg­is­tra­tion and he will de­cide later whether to seek the Repub­li­can Se­nate nom­i­na­tion.

Democrats and Repub­li­cans agree that the pri­mary race will be tough and that, like Mr. Trump, Mr. Ritchie would have a tall or­der in earn­ing the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, much less de­feat­ing the three­term in­cum­bent Ms. Stabenow.

“Kid Rock has done us all a fa­vor to bring at­ten­tion to the race. This is some­thing all Repub­li­cans should take a look at,” said Sarah An­der­son, a spokes­woman for the Michi­gan Repub­li­can Party.

Ms. An­der­son noted other strong Repub­li­cans po­ten­tially in the field. She pointed to Rep. Fred Up­ton, who rep­re­sents the state’s 6th Con­gres­sional District and has shown in­ter­est in a run, and to busi­ness­woman Lena Ep­stein, who has al­ready launched her cam­paign.

Mr. Ritchie’s mu­sic mor­phed from his early days of rap-rock to coun­try and blues in the early 2000s.

He be­came ac­tive with mil­i­tary or­ga­ni­za­tions af­ter the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks and sub­se­quent wars but shied away from overt pol­i­tics. In 2008, he told CMT In­sider that en­ter­tain­ers “should keep their mouth shut on pol­i­tics.”

By 2012, that had changed. He en­dorsed Mitt Rom­ney for pres­i­dent, and his song “Born Free” be­came Mr. Rom­ney’s cam­paign rally theme mu­sic.

He ini­tially en­dorsed Detroit na­tive Ben Car­son in the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­mary race last year but then sup­ported Mr. Trump.

Still to be seen is whether Mr. Ritchie can tap into the Trump coali­tion that helped the real es­tate mogul claim the state in the Novem­ber pres­i­den­tial elec­tion — the first time Michi­gan has gone Repub­li­can since 1988.

“There are peo­ple, tea party politi­cos, lib­er­tar­i­ans and con­ser­va­tives that are sup­port­ing Kid Rock, but then there are oth­ers who are not be­cause there’s a ques­tion of whether he is pro-life, and it was de­ter­mined that he was not,” said Joan Fabi­ano, founder of Grassroots in Michi­gan, a con­ser­va­tive tea party group.

Ms. Fabi­ano said some Repub­li­can vot­ers may sour on Mr. Ritchie be­cause of past in­dis­cre­tions, in­clud­ing a sex tape, and his pro-choice views. Other vot­ers will deem those “in the past,” she said.

She doubted Trump vot­ers would rally around a sin­gle can­di­date and said she is watch­ing John E. James, a 36-year-old black busi­ness­man from Detroit who is be­ing courted for the seat. A grad­u­ate of the U.S. Mil­i­tary Academy at West Point and an Iraq War vet­eran, he serves as CEO of Re­nais­sance Global Lo­gis­tics.

“It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be a con­tested pri­mary,” she said. “In the pri­mary, we’re go­ing to have a di­vide with tea party ad­her­ents and lib­er­tar­i­ans and other ac­tivists.”

Oth­ers said Trump vot­ers are Repub­li­can vot­ers, so there is no spe­cial coali­tion to try to win.

Whether those vot­ers turn out for the Repub­li­can can­di­date in the gen­eral elec­tion re­mains to be seen.

“It’s still too early to ul­ti­mately tell, but the rea­son Trump won is that Repub­li­cans over­whelm­ingly came to­gether and voted for him. And ev­ery­thing we’ve seen in polling so far shows that the pres­i­dent still has a fa­vor­able rat­ing in those who iden­tify as Repub­li­cans,” said David Doyle, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent at Mar­ket­ing Re­search Group, a po­lit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm in Lans­ing.

Joe DiSano, a Demo­cratic con­sul­tant in Michi­gan, said he doubted that Mr. Trump’s vot­ers will unify.

“I don’t think the Trump coali­tion tran­si­tions over to who­ever is the Repub­li­can can­di­date,” Mr. DiSano said. “I think it’s the same prob­lem Pres­i­dent Obama al­ways had try­ing to re­assem­ble his coali­tion.”

As for Mr. Ritchie, the Demo­cratic strate­gist said his in­ter­est in the race should be taken se­ri­ously — but he doubts the rocker will run in the end.

“I think what he’ll do is come out and say that ‘I’m thrilled at the in­ter­est and I’ll look in the fu­ture, but right now it’s not the right time.’ Some BS like that,” Mr. DiSano said.

Mr. Ritchie has earned the race more at­ten­tion at this point than it would usu­ally garner, and he is in the mix.

“A num­ber of pub­lic sur­veys have showed [Mr. Ritchie] do­ing well in the Repub­li­can pri­mary … so clearly peo­ple are in­ter­ested in some­body in the Repub­li­can pri­mary be­ing out­side of the main­stream,” said David Doyle, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent at Mar­ket­ing Re­search Group, a po­lit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm in Lans­ing.

But Democrats say the added in­ter­est in the race doesn’t mat­ter if Mr. Ritchie drops out.

“I don’t think the Trump coali­tion tran­si­tions over to who­ever is the Repub­li­can can­di­date. I think it’s the same prob­lem Pres­i­dent Obama al­ways had try­ing to re­assem­ble his coali­tion.” — Joe DiSano, Demo­cratic con­sul­tant in Michi­gan

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

LOOK­ING: Robert Ritchie, known as Kid Rock, says he is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing a Repub­li­can run for the U.S. Se­nate seat held by Demo­crat Deb­bie Stabenow.

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