If Robert James Ritchie — also known by his rap-rock moniker, Kid Rock — is running for the U.S. Senate in Michigan, he hasn’t informed the Michigan Republican Party.
Of course, he could be running as a Democrat. But that would be a strange turn, given that Kid Rock endorsed then-candidate Donald Trump and then paid him a memorable visit at the White House after Trump won the election.
So what to make of Ritchie’s new website, “Kid Rock For Senate,” which he said in social media postings on Wednesday was “real” and would be followed by “a major announcement in the near future”?
The website currently features a photo of Ritchie sitting in a chair next to a stuffed deer. The bottom of the site has a phrase: “Kid Rock for US Senate 2018.” But it is the center of the site that is most curious: A “Buy Now” link (stashed next to a widget flashing phrases like “Pimp of the Nation” and “Born Free”) which takes viewers to a Warner Bros. Records website that sells merchandise related to a Kid Rock-for-Senate run.
Late Thursday afternoon, Ritchie posted a statement on his website offering little clarification about his intentions.
“Like politicians write books during their campaigns, I’m planning on putting out music during mine, and IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT,” Ritchie wrote. “It’s not a hoax, it’s a strategy and marketing 101!”
Ritchie has not filed official paperwork declaring his candidacy, according to a search of the Federal Election Commission website, which yielded this result: “Sorry, no candidates or committees have names that contain your search, ‘Kid Rock.’” The same was true for a search of his given name.
According to the commission’s website, “An individual running for a seat in the Senate or the House of Representatives becomes a candidate when he or she raises or spends more than $5,000 in contributions or expenditures.” This would mean once Ritchie raised or spent that amount in preparation for a possible candidacy, he would have to file and disclose the contributions to the Federal Election Commission.
One other wrinkle: It doesn’t appear that the checkout process for Ritchie’s merchandise asks for a purchaser’s occupation, which according to a commission spokeswoman, is required for disclosures of contributions more than $200.
If this is a publicity stunt — which it may be, given the lack of concrete steps that a serious candidate would normally take — no one is saying. Is this online activity related to a new album or a new tour? Does it have something to do with a trademark application Ritchie filed for a new restaurant, as reported by Crain’s Detroit Business?
Warner Bros. isn’t saying if this is a publicity stunt, referring questions to Ritchie’s team. Given that it is hosting the online store, it likely stands to profit if it is, indeed, a stunt. Ritchie’s manager declined to elaborate on his Facebook post, and referred questions about the commission regulations to Ritchie’s spokesman, who also declined.
Perhaps Ritchie will silence the skeptics and pursue a serious run for the seat up for election in 2018 held by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat. Stabenow, in a Twitter post on Wednesday, wrote: “I know we both share a love of music. I concede he’s better at playing guitar and I’ll keep doing what I do best: fighting for Michigan.”