Just weeks after a number of Republican candidates in Michigan were purged from the primary ballot for failing to attain enough signatures on their nomination papers, a GOP candidate who did qualify was arrested for his participation in the breach of the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Ryan Kelley was arrested at his home on Thursday morning on charges relating to his involvement in the Capitol attack. According to a statement from prosecutors, he faces misdemeanor charges for being on restricted grounds of the Capitol building and for engaging in disorderly conduct, among others.
In addition to his arrest, local news media reported that the FBI was also conducting a search inside Kelley’s home in Allendale, Michigan.
Kelley, who has acknowledged being at the Capitol that day, has denied ever entering the actual building. However, the Justice Department received multiple tips regarding his actions, including videos and images of him in a restricted area on the Capitol grounds, climbing structures and encouraging others to follow him. Some of those tips came about just 10 days after the attack took place.
Kelley was in Washington D.C. on January 6 due to his belief that the election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump through election fraud. (No claims of fraud have ever been substantiated.) Kelley has pushed such claims himself, speaking at a November 2020 “Stop the Steal” rally in Lansing, Michigan, and encouraging the crowd to “stand and fight” for Trump and against the election’s outcome.
A relatively unknown politician in the state, Kelley wasn’t seen as a favorite at the beginning of the campaign season. However, his chances of winning the gubernatorial Republican primary in Michigan increased substantially after five other candidates, including some that were considered front-runners, didn’t qualify for the ballot after failing to garner enough signatures on their nomination papers by last month’s deadline. After that, a statewide poll found that Kelley led the pack of the remaining five individuals running, although his numbers were still relatively low.
According to a Target Insyght and Michigan Information and Research Service poll published in late May, Kelley had the support of 19 percent of Republican voters across the state. His second-place competitor, businessman Kevin Rinke, had 15 percent, and businesswoman Tudor Dixon came in third place with just 9 percent. Notably, because all of the candidates are not household names in Michigan, 49 percent of respondents in the poll said they were still undecided.
The Michigan Republican Party’s gubernatorial primary is slated to take place on August 2.