Social media erupted on Sunday when a poll showed musician Robert Ritchie, aka Kid Rock, up by four points over incumbent Democratic Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. Delphi Analytics, whose website just launched this month, released the findings:

Of respondents who stated a preference between Debbie Stabenow and Robert Ritchie, 54% stated they would vote for Ritchie while 46% said they would vote for Debbie Stabenow. These results could indicate that Ritchie is a popular figure in Michigan, Debbie Stabenow is unpopular, or some combination of concurrent trends. The relatively large, 44%, number of undecided respondents may be due to the early stages of the campaign.

Kid Rock took the internet by storm when he tweeted out www.kidrockforsenate.com with links to merchandise. He even confirmed the move in other tweets:

 

People have laughed him off, but Politico warned on Sunday that it’d be a huge mistake not to take Kid Rock seriously. As I said, Delphi Analytics just launched its website this month, but the findings go along the lines with this article.

Kid Rock hasn’t had much musical success lately and the announcement coincides with new music he’s released. Politico reminds its readers “that theory doesn’t appear consistent with the man himself.” The article continued:

Ritchie, who already boasts a huge and devoted following, has sold tens of millions of albums and amassed what he calls “fuck you money”—enough of it, in fact, that he has given seven-figure sums to charity and capped ticket prices to his concerts at $20 to make them accessible to working-class fans. Meanwhile, he’s earned a reputation in his native southeast Michigan as someone who is earnest when it comes to civic involvement, helping local businesses and headlining major philanthropic events. When Mitt Romney asked for his endorsement ahead of the pivotal Michigan primary in 2012, Ritchie invited him to his Metro Detroit home and peppered him with a list of policy questions, sleeping on the decision before informing Romney the next day he would support him. The two forged an unexpected bond: Romney adopted the patriotic rock anthem “Born Free” as his official campaign song, and Ritchie later praised the former Massachusetts governor as “the most decent motherfucker I’ve ever met in my life.”

Politico notes that Stabenow easily defeated the last two GOP nominees who all used a traditional campaign. Democratic strategist Joshua Pugh admitted that a Kid Rock campaign “would scramble the playbook,” but he’s not concerned that Stabenow would lose. Other strategists said that since Kid Rock is touring until November, he wouldn’t have time to run a proper campaign.

But does he have to?

Kid Rock doesn’t need to run a standard campaign; he has nearly universal name-identification that will earn him free media to make up for any lack of traditional ground game. (Sound familiar?) If he runs, some Democrats fear, not only could Ritchie chip away at Stabenow’s impressive coalition of rural, non-college-educated independents and urban, union-friendly Democrats; he alone might prove capable of mobilizing Republicans who otherwise don’t turn out to vote in midterm elections.

“The fact that he’s non-traditional is appealing to a lot of people. Obviously it scares others who want someone more predictable,” says Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan GOP. “But if you’re going to beat an entrenched candidate like Debbie Stabenow in a purple state, you need to do something different.”

“He’s well-liked in Michigan. He’s a hometown darling. He’s got deep connections to Detroit. He’s done a lot throughout the state,” Anuzis adds. “Anybody who’s writing him off is making a mistake.”

Look at Donald Trump. He visited the state and actually spoke with residents while failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton didn’t give the state a thought. It’d be easier for Kid Rock to win than it was for Trump. Not just because he’s from there, but because of his actions and friendliness to those in his area:

Ritchie gives back to the country: Performances for the troops overseas, on top of his donations to numerous military charities and home-building efforts for a wounded veteran, earned him the “Patriot Award” from Operation Troop Aid in 2014. He is similarly generous in the community—his foundation has given money to, among other groups, a local youth theater, a nature conservancy and the Detroit Historical Museum (where an exhibit is named in his honor). And unlike other beloved local figures—most especially Eminem—he’s highly accessible. Everyone seems to know somebody who met him at a bar or ran into him on the lake or got invited back to his house to hang out. (A Rolling Stone piece from 2015 detailed how Ritchie, while at his property in Alabama, invites over small-town neighbors he meets under various circumstances; he even took three of them to New York City as his “security entourage” so they could see the Big Apple for the first time.) On a random evening in Michigan, locals know you can find Ritchie chatting up guests at unremarkable watering holes in Mt. Clemens or St. Clair Shores, taking in a Tigers game at Comerica Park or even golfing alongside wealthy white-collar executives at Metro Detroit’s most selective country clubs.

In a region long divided along lines of race and class, Ritchie’s equally at home among black Detroiters and the suburban and exurban whites of the surrounding counties. Doubtless this is informed by his own family: Ritchie has a college-aged biracial son, whom he raised as a single father after winning a custody battle in court. Yet in song, Ritchie has also described himself as “a lowlife” who thinks “racist jokes are funny” and questioned in “Amen,” a track on his 2007 album, “How can we seek salvation when our nation’s race relations got me feeling guilty of being white?”

Besides it’s not new for celebrities to mingle into politics and actually win. President Ronald Reagan anyone? Arnold Schwarzenegger. Al Franken. Donald Trump, who easily defeated Hillary Clinton. Nothing in politics from now on should surprise us nor should we laugh off any celebrity that wants to enter politics.

Source: Mary Chastain

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