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Ryan Kelley pushes back against insurrection charges, lawsuit in GOP debate

headshot of Ryan Kelley wearing a suit
Ryan D. Kelley for Governor of Michigan

In a Republican candidate debate, gubernatorial hopeful Ryan Kelley spoke out against criminal charges filed against him and a lawsuit filed this month that claims he’s not eligible to serve as governor.

The forum was taped Friday on WKAR-TV’s Off The Record, where the candidates seeking the Republican nomination were quizzed on a variety of topics.

Kelley, unprompted, brought up the charges during the question-and-answer session with host Tim Skubick.

“I was recently arrested by the FBI on some ridiculous charges,” he said. “Now there’s a lawsuit to keep me off the November election ballot. That’s more election meddling, trying to manipulate voters, and people know that I’m a fighter.”

Kelley has been charged with four federal misdemeanor violations related to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. He has pleaded not guilty.

The group Progress Michigan has also assisted in a Michigan Court of Claims lawsuit that argues Kelley is not eligible to serve under the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The amendment, adopted following the US Civil War, was initially directed toward rebels who were part of the Confederacy.

The lawsuit says votes for Kelley in the August Republican primary should not be counted.

The candidate forum also included chiropractor Garrett Soldano, businessman Kevin Rinke, and pastor Ralph Rebandt. Businesswoman Tudor Dixon did not take part to attend a memorial service for her father.

In the forum, there was no mention of abortion or the court cases regarding the state’s dormant ban on the procedure. The candidates differed on how to handle economic development incentives. The candidates did all agree they’d like to repeal the death penalty ban in the state Constitution, which would require a ratification vote on a statewide ballot.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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