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After his arrest by the FBI last week, Ryan Kelley might be the front runner in the GOP race for Governor

June 14, 2022

As a Founding Father (what he likes to call himself) of the American Patriot Council, Ryan Kelley became know to the broader public when he organized some of the anti-lockdown protests in Lansing in late April of 2020.

From a post in April of 2020 on the American Patriot Council site, a post that has since been removed, Kelley writes:

“We received several death threats,” said organizer Ryan Kelley, “and the second amendment was designed to protect the first.”

“We organized the rally with the constitution in mind,” said Jason Howland, “and this is the way it was designed to work. The guys from the militia are always portrayed by the media in a negative light, and they are genuinely necessary. They did a great job at the event.”

Kelley also acknowledged that he was in constant communication with State Senator Mike Shirkey during those anti-lockdown protests in Lansing. In May of 2020, Kelley then hosted a an anti-lockdown protest in Grand Rapids on May 18, which we wrote attended and wrote about.  We noted in a follow up post that some of the armed militia members were also on stage at Rosa Parks Circle with Kelley, along with several other speakers.

Shortly after Kelley’s rally in Grand Rapids, he once again made the news with his involvement and support of a Confederate Statue in Allendale, Michigan. Kelley used the campaign to remove the Confederate Statue in Allendale as a rallying cry for an American Patriot Council action at that statue site some 10 days before the 2020 Elections. The local news media failed to ask important questions, instead choosing to report on the two opposing view points.

After the 2020 Elections, Kelley joined other Trump supporter in denouncing the outcome of the election, with Kelley traveling to Detroit to protest outside of one of the vote counting sites, then hosting another rally in Lansing late November. We did include video that the American Patriot Council (AMC) had used at that Stop the Steal rally, but the AMC once again removed that content.

In January of 2021, Kelley and his colleague, Jason Howland, were both documented to have participated in the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, DC.

Then in early February of 2021, Ryan Kelley announced that he was running as a Republican for Governor in Michigan. At the time, I wrote that this would be a great time to focus on his involvement with far right groups, particularly their White Supremacist beliefs and practices.

However, shortly after Kelley’s announcement to run for Governor, much of the news media’s attention had moved on to other things. Kelley was not generating a great deal of campaign contributions, so his campaign also was downplayed. We continued to report on Kelley, providing a deconstruction of a political ad he produced in October of 2021.

The new media has recently re-discovered Ryan Kelley, after he was arrested by the FBI last week, which included their search of his home. In addition, with some of the front-running GOP Gubernatorial candidates now disqualified for bogus campaign signatures, Kelley has been elevated to being possibly the front runner of the remaining GOP candidates for Governor of Michigan.

The arrest of Ryan Kelley by the FBI has made him an attractive candidate within the Trump wing of the GOP. According to Kelley’s Facebook page, he is receiving hundreds of e-mails and messages on how to donate to his campaign. In addition, since his arrest last Thursday, Kelley has been invited to speak at numerous locations, was interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Monday and has been a quest on several other right wing radio shows and podcasts. On the short interview with Tucker Carlson, Kelley says he believes that his arrest was politically motivated, particularly because he is a candidate for Governor. In addition, Kelley was interviewed by Steve Bannon on the same day that he was arrested by the FBI.

Regardless of the FBI’s arrest of Kelley, people should start paying attention to the “founding father” of the American Patriot Council and his broader policy stances, instead of just seeing him as another crack-pot who took part in the January 6th insurrection. 

It will be interesting to see Kelley’s campaign finance data in late July, just before the August Primary, particularly who is now contributing to his campaign. Too many people downplayed Donald Trump as the Presidential candidate in 2016, and they might regret ignoring or dismissing Kelley after the election results in November. 

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