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Perry Johnson in Lansing, Mich.
Perry Johnson in Lansing, Mich., on Feb. 23, 2022. David Eggert / AP

Michigan businessman uses CPAC to launch presidential bid

Perry Johnson was disqualified from last year's GOP primary for governor in Michigan after failing to submit enough signatures.


NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Perry Johnson — a businessman who was disqualified from Michigan’s Republican primary for governor last year after failing to submit enough petition signatures — formally launched a presidential bid this week at CPAC.

A self-described quality guru, Johnson used the gathering of conservative activists to establish a presence in a developing GOP field that already includes former President Donald Trump and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. 

Volunteers sporting red T-shirts bearing the conversation-starting question “Perry Who?” roamed the halls at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center here. 

“I say we fire [President Joe] Biden!” Johnson, whose company specializes in quality standards certifications, said in a Thursday afternoon speech, drawing enthusiastic applause from a light crowd. “We are going to save this country.”

At a CPAC meet-and-greet Thursday night that served as his formal campaign announcement, Johnson was joined by former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., the former U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, and James Craig, the former Detroit police chief who was also disqualified from Michigan’s GOP primary for governor in 2022, introduced him. State officials had determined that Johnson and Craig — two of the leading candidates — had submitted forged signatures from fraudulent petition circulators, leaving them without enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

Johnson first signaled his White House aspirations last month with an ad that aired during the Super Bowl in Iowa, home of the GOP’s first presidential caucus. He’s committed to spending $600,000 on TV in Iowa and New Hampshire through the end of march, according to his campaign.

Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, another prospective Republican presidential contender, are scheduled to address CPAC Friday afternoon as is entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, a lesser-known GOP hopeful. Trump is scheduled as CPAC’s closing speaker Saturday night.