Republican Richard Chrysler wants to be governor of Michigan -- and he spent $450,000 in one month on a television and radio advertising blitz to let the voters know.

Chrysler's ads tell his Horatio Alger story: how he began his career as a General Motors assembly line worker and eventually founded what became a $100 million a year auto-customizing business.

According to a poll conducted last month for his campaign, the ads worked: 41 percent of Republican voters said they want Chrysler to be governor, compared with 6 percent last fall. The poll, taken by Decision/Making/Information, shows Chrysler leading the four other Republicans in the race for the nomination to challenge Gov. James J. Blanchard (D). Before Chrysler's media campaign, most political observers considered Wayne County Executive William Lucas, a black who switched to the Republican Party, to be the front-runner. Lucas has not begun his television advertising campaign.

Chrysler isn't accepting state matching funds, partly to avoid Michigan's $1.2 million spending limit for the primary. He figures to spend up to twice that, much of it his own money. It is a tactic that might work. One Democratic strategist said, "The race is there to be bought."