State officials could reject five Republican candidates in Michigan's governor race due to them not collecting enough signatures to qualify for the state's primary contest.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections released a report on Monday claiming that former Detroit police chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson are ineligible to compete. The pair failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to make the ballot, according to the report. The invalid signatures could lead to the removal of Craig, who is considered the front-runner in the Republican attempt to oust Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from office.
"Although it is typical for staff to encounter some signatures of dubious authenticity scattered within nominating petitions," the department wrote in its report, "the Bureau is unaware of another election cycle in which this many circulators submitted such a substantial volume of fraudulent petition sheets consisting of invalid signatures, nor an instance in which it affected as many candidate petitions as at present."
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The bureau found that 68,000 invalid signatures had been filed across the nominating petitions for 10 candidates.
Craig filed more than 11,100 invalid signatures and fewer than 10,200 valid ones, according to the report. Johnson had 9,000 invalid signatures and 14,000 valid ones. Each candidate would have to receive a minimum of 15,000 signatures to be considered in a partisan primary.
The two candidates are not taking the possible rejection well.
"We strongly believe they are refusing to count thousands of signatures from legitimate voters who signed the petitions and look forward to winning this fight before the board and, if necessary, in the courts," John Yob, a consultant for Johnson, told the Detroit News.
Three other GOP candidates also failed to get enough votes to be considered. Michael Brown, Michael Markey, and Donna Brandenburg all met the minimum 15,000 signatures required to be considered on the ballot, only for more than 10,000 of the signatures to be rejected by the bureau.
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The department's report will be handed over to the Board of State Canvassers, which will vote Thursday on who will appear on the ballots during the state's Aug. 2 primaries. The board is currently run by two Republicans and two Democrats. Michelle Voorheis, one of the former Republican canvassers on the board, said that she was not renominated to the role in 2021 due to her decision to certify that Biden won the 2020 election.
If the board does disqualify the five from the GOP primary ballot, it would leave five other GOP candidates in the race. Remaining candidates would include Tudor Dixon, who has advanced former President Donald Trump's claims that Joe Biden stole the election in her state. The politically influential DeVos family endorsed Dixon on Monday.