LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Businessman Perry Johnson, the latest Republican to enter the race for governor, pledged Wednesday to bring "quality" to Michigan government by improving schools and roads and said he is a conservative who opposes abortion without exceptions and favors gun rights.
Johnson, who is spending $1.5 million of his own money on ads over three weeks, held a kickoff event at a hotel near the Capitol. He is the 13th candidate in the GOP field, though not all of them will qualify for the August primary.
"I'm running for governor to give something back to the state," said Johnson, who started Troy-based Perry Johnson Registrars Inc., which certifies if businesses are meeting industrial standards. He said if he is elected, he will donate his gubernatorial salary.
"I don't need the money. What I want is to have this become the great state it is," said Johnson, 74, who criticized first-term Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and decried the state of the education system.
He said she should have loosened restrictions more quickly, so people got their "liberty" back as soon as possible. He described himself as "pro-Trump."
Speaking briefly with reporters after telling a crowd of about 75 people about his life and answering prerecorded questions, Johnson appeared to oppose abortion exceptions for cases of rape and incest, saying: "Two wrongs don't make a right. I am pro-life."
Asked if the 2020 election was "stolen" from President Donald Trump, he did not say.
"The very mere fact that we have to talk about this means that we have issues we have to resolve. ... Voter ID will be mandatory. It means that we're going to make it so everybody can have a voter ID. I'm not going to do anything to suppress votes," Johnson said.
The Michigan Democratic Party said his speech was rambling, difficult to follow and included over-the-top statements.
"The last thing the Republican primary field needed is another self-funding millionaire without Michiganders' interesting in mind," spokesperson Rodericka Applewhaite said. She said Whitmer "continues to deliver sustained, competent leadership" while improving infrastructure and the strength of the economy and workforce.
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