The Republican primary for the chance to challenge Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been a three-ring circus. The two leading GOP candidates were kicked off the ballot amid a signature falsification controversy. A lagging candidate saw his fortunes rise with the MAGA base after he was arrested by the FBI and charged in connection with the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. All the while, Whitmer has continued to amass an impressive war chest and her own approval remains strong in the state, despite President Joe Biden’s falling numbers in a state he won by three points.

It’s an interesting dichotomy, and Whitmer’s polling has remained impressive. She emerged as a polarizing figure during the nascent days of the pandemic, with strict measures to stop the COVID spread, which made her a frequent and favorite target of then-President Trump. Given Whitmer’s continued strength and the combination of the messy primary that ousted the candidates polling most competitively, many Republicans in the state aren’t optimistic, despite the growing headwinds for Democrats.

“Michigan may be an outlier,” one veteran

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