Lansing — Former Detroit police Chief James Craig described himself as the “candidate to beat” and the “front runner” in the race to be the Republican Party’s nominee for governor as the crowded contest took shape Monday, a day before the filing deadline.

Craig’s campaign said it turned in 21,735 petition signatures. The threshold to qualify for the ballot is 15,000 valid signatures. The deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The campaign of businessman Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township said it submitted more than 21,000 signatures on Monday afternoon. Conservative commentator Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores and businessman Perry Johnson of Bloomfield Hills plan to file their signatures on Tuesday.

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Craig talks to reporters outside the Michigan Department of State office in downtown Lansing on Monday, April 19, 2022.

Standing outside the Michigan Department of State office building in downtown Lansing, Craig fielded questions from reporters, citing polling data that he said showed he’s in the lead in the August primary contest. The numbers also demonstrated that his campaign was not in disarray, he contended.

“I know I am a target,” Craig said. “I know that I’m the one they’d like to topple off. I am the candidate to most likely win against Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer. So I am getting it from both sides.

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