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Ryan Kelley’s new political ad is filled with misinformation, unsubstantiated claims, and wrapped in White Supremacist rhetoric

October 31, 2021

On Friday, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley, released a new political ad for his campaign to become the next Governor of Michigan.

As we noted last week, the Whitmer campaign has raised a ton of money a full year before the November 2022 election. In the same post, we also noted that the primary Republican Gubernatorial candidate, in terms of fundraising, is James Craig. Craig is getting money from corporate sources, wealthy families and numerous influential people within the GOP. 

Ryan Kelley, on the other hand, is not raking in the big money at this point, with only $80,000 raised in his campaign. When comparing his campaign fundraising totals to Craig, Craig has raised about 15 times more money and Craig entered the race months after Kelley.

While campaign contributions are central to elections in the US, it is also important to look at the platforms and messaging coming from candidates. This brings us back to Ryan Kelley’s most recent political ad and why I want to provide a deconstruction of the ad from the co-founder (or as Kelley like to call “a founding father) of the far right group known as the American Patriot Council.

The political ad is 2 minutes and 50 seconds long and is only being shared on social media, especially since he hasn’t raised the necessary funds to run ads on commercial media. I will use a mix of images from Kelley’s ad, along with a narrative for the deconstruction.

Kelley then states that the Michigan Democratic Party has attacked him and tried to discredit him. While there may have been some criticisms from Michigan Democrats, most of the criticism has come from individuals and autonomous movements that exposed Kelley for his roll in organizing the anti-lockdown protests that began in Lansing in April of 2020.

At 40 seconds into the ad, Kelley then claims that during the lockdown, “we didn’t back down.” This of course really means that Kelley and the American Patriot Council invited far right Michiganders to come to Lansing with assault rifles and enter the Lansing State Capitol, while Kelley was texting with Senator Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. In a blog post on the American Patriot Council, which has since been removed, Kelley wrote:

“The irony is that the American Patriot Rally was organized with one thing in mind: to encourage the senate to vote no on extending Whitmer’s emergency declaration, which they did. It was a victory. If Sean had taken the time to be a journalist, he’d have known that we got exactly what we came for.”

Kelley had then invited Sen. Shirley to speak at an American Patriot Council-organized anti-lockdown rally in Grand Rapids in May of 2020, which we reported on. It was always clear that the anti-lockdown protests were organized in conjunction with Republican elected officials, and was being co-ordinated by the Council for National Policy across the country.

At 52 seconds into the ad, Kelley then talks about how people have had enough of politicians who lie just to get elected and then never do anything to benefit the people. While I would agree with Kelley’s comment here, since most politicians don’t do much that benefits most people, he is only using these comments to the lead up beginning at 1:10 in the video. At this point Kelley turns the focus on the “failures” of the Whitmer administration, with Kelley standing right in front of Gov. Whitmer’s home.

At the 2 minute mark in the video, there is footage of Ryan Kelley with his wife and children, talking about how there are efforts to destroy the nuclear family. This is followed by more rhetoric about integrity and standing up for people’s rights. The political ad ends with Kelley saying that he and other gave people hope, saying all of this while standing in front of the Lansing State Capitol. Kelley is clearly appealing to his base, those who supported his role in the anti-lockdown protests. 

Like all political ads, Kelley uses vague rhetoric and appeals to traditional conservative values. However, Kelley also uses lots of misinformation, unsubstantiated claims and a great deal of fear-mongering, all of which have become the norm with political ads. More importantly, Kelley offers no concrete plans for what he would do that would actually benefit the majority of Michigan residents, specifically around economic policy, public health, the environment and housing. 

Lastly, it is clear that the only things Kelley can appeal to are the things he has personally been involved in, such as the anti-lockdown protests, the defense of the Confederate statue in Allendale, opposing COVID vaccinations and whining about the 2020 election results. All of these issues, it must be said, are wrapped in the ideology of White Supremacy, which is what Ryan Kelley has demonstrated he is committed to, since he became a public figure in April 2020. 

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