Suspected insurrectionist Ryan Kelley can’t be removed from ballot, Michigan Court of Appeals rules

A lawsuit called Ryan Kelley a 'clear and present danger to democracy'

GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley spotted amid the mob on Jan. 6. - Via FBI
GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley spotted amid the mob on Jan. 6.

The Michigan Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected a lawsuit that sought to boot suspected insurrectionist Ryan Kelley from the general election ballot if he wins the primary next month.

The three-judge panel said the lawsuit was filed too close to the Aug. 2 primary election to remove Kelley, one of five Republican candidates vying for a chance to take on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the November election.

The court made no judgment on whether Kelley was an insurrectionist.

“We express no opinion on whether Kelley engaged in ‘insurrection or rebellion’ or whether Kelley is qualified to serve as a gubernatorial candidate as a result,” the order stated.

Lee Estes, a retired Oakland County attorney, filed the lawsuit with the help of Progress Michigan, a progressive nonprofit.

In a statement Friday, Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie Scott said he’s not surprised by the ruling and is still confident that Kelley should be disqualified for joining a mob that violently seized control of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“While we’re disappointed with the court’s decision, we knew the timing would make immediate relief difficult,” Scott said. “However, it’s important to note that the court specifically stated it was not ruling on whether or not Kelley had participated in insurrection and should remain a candidate – they ruled only on procedural grounds, leaving open the option to further pursue legal action if Kelley is somehow able to win the Republican primary. The Constitution makes clear that all insurrectionists should be ineligible to serve, and we will continue to pursue all avenues to make sure that’s the case here in Michigan.”

The FBI arrested Kelley at his home in Allendale on June 9 on allegations that he joined the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

He was charged with four misdemeanor counts.

The lawsuit alleged Kelley violated the 14th Amendment by participating in an insurrection aimed at overturning the presidential election.

An EPIC-MRA of Lansing poll in June found that Kelley was leading the pack of five Republican candidates. In the poll, conducted between June 10 and 13, Kelley was ahead, with 17% saying they preferred him.

But in a poll that surveyed likely GOP primary voters between July 13 and July 15, conservative commentator Tudor Dixon held a slight lead, with 19% saying they preferred her. Kelley ranked third with 13%. A whopping 38% of voters were still undecided.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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