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Ryan Kelley, a Michigan gubernatorial candidate, speaks on a debate stage

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley speaks during a debate in Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 6, 2022. (Photo: Ryan D. Kelley/Facebook)

'Danger to Democracy': Lawsuit Aims to Keep Jan. 6 Insurrectionist Off Michigan Ballot

"It's simple, really," said a group backing the suit. "If you supported and participated in the January 6 insurrection, you should not have the privilege of holding—or even running for—public office."

Jake Johnson

A lawsuit filed Thursday with a Michigan appellate court aims to preemptively block Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley from appearing on the state's general election ballot, citing his embrace of and active participation in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The lawsuit, submitted by retired attorney and registered voter Lee Estes, argues that Kelley should be barred from the general election ballot "because he has 'engaged in insurrection' in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore is ineligible to serve as a candidate for governor for the state of Michigan."

"Whether it's Ryan Kelley or anyone else that was illegally at the Capitol trying to overturn the will of the people, there needs to be accountability."

"He is a clear and present danger to democracy in Michigan," the lawsuit states.

Just last month, Kelley—a former YouTube personality and self-described "J6er"—was arrested by the FBI and charged for his role in the January 6 insurrection. NBC News reported that Kelley "faces four charges related to his alleged actions at the Capitol, including disorderly conduct and willfully injuring or attacking U.S. property."

Kelley has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan—an advocacy group that helped with research and funding for the new lawsuit—said Thursday that "whether it's Ryan Kelley or anyone else that was illegally at the Capitol trying to overturn the will of the people, there needs to be accountability."

"It's simple, really," Scott added. "If you supported and participated in the January 6 insurrection, you should not have the privilege of holding—or even running for—public office."

Kelley is among several Republican candidates vying for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

According to a survey conducted in the days immediately following Kelley's arrest last month, 17% of Republicans likely to vote in the August 2 primary chose Kelley as their preferred candidate, putting him above the other GOP contenders.

The lawsuit is part of a broader, nationwide legal effort to disqualify from future office Republican candidates who supported or took part in the January 6 attack—including former President Donald Trump.

"We are urging election officials to make clear that insurrectionists such as President Trump and his congressional allies are barred from ever again holding public office, as is required under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Alexandra Flores-Quilty, campaign director at Free Speech for People, said earlier this year.


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