The kinda-crowded-but-kinda-not field of GOP 2022 gubernatorial candidates increased by one this week, although Garrett Soldano seems to actually want the job.
A Kalamazoo chiropractor and former college football star at Western Michigan University, Soldano positioned himself as "not a politician," following a path cleared by former President Trump, who he said showed one doesn't "have to be a politician" to get elected.
Soldano, 42, of Mattawan is a chiropractor and has served as a co-chairman of the Unlock Michigan campaign, which is working to repeal one of the two state laws that allows the governor to declare a state of emergency. He announced his candidacy Wednesday, becoming the most well-known GOP gubernatorial hopeful in a field that still lacks candidates with experience in elected office.
"We need to reopen Michigan and start the recovery by giving people their lives back," Soldano said. "The pandemic hurt people who got the coronavirus, but Gov. Whitmer is responsible for the closing of businesses, kids falling behind in school and people losing their livelihoods all in the name of a power grab."
So far, the most-talked-about Republican challengers to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been distinguished by reluctance to declare a candidacy. John James, two-time loser for U.S. Senate, is on most lists, as is ultra-conservative Pat Colbeck and most recently, GOP national chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who made headlines last week when she teased the idea to party members in a recent closed-door meeting.
Soldano made a name for himself with Republicans during the pandemic via social-media postings of videos objecting to business closures and mask mandates. His campaign announcement was made in similar fashion, Craig Mauger writes:
Soldano's campaign released an 11-minute launch video, entitled "Taking Back Michigan," Wednesday that featured residents talking about the repercussions of the the state's emergency orders. The video included Owosso barber Karl Manke, who gained attention for defying COVID-19 orders and keeping his shop open.
Soldano's chiropractic business site mentions "a stint with the Chicago Bears," and Mauger's story says he was signed, but put on waivers before training camp. He was an all-Mid American Conference linebacker in 2000.