In a serious blow to the political ambitions of several Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidates, the state’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld findings from the Bureau of Elections that effectively booted the hopefuls from the party’s primary ballot, according to the Detroit News.
The 6-1 rulings will scuttle – at least for now – the ambitions of former City of Detroit Police Chief James Craig, business executive Perry Johnson, financial industry professional Michael Markey, and businesswoman Donna Brandenburg to take on Democrat incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.
Fraudulent signatures at issue
As the News explained, the three now-former candidates were found to lack the necessary 15,000 petition signatures to qualify for the primary ballot due to determinations by the Michigan Bureau of Elections that a substantial number of the names that were submitted were, in fact, fraudulent.
According to PBS, the bureau found that Craig turned in just 10,192 valid signatures, with 11,113 others having been thrown out. Over 9,800 of those were allegedly gathered by 18 paid petition circulators in a fraudulent manner.
Johnson, for his part, was found to have submitted 13,800 valid signatures, with 9,393 also being tossed. Nearly 7,000 of those were deemed fraudulent and were also collected by some of the same paid workers who were involved in the forgeries that plagued Craig’s candidacy.
In the cases of Markey and Brandenburg, the bureau determined that they also had not met the 15,000 signature threshold required to appear on the primary ballot, with issues of fraud partially to blame.
With regard to appeals filed by the three candidates, the justices on the Michigan panel declared succinctly that the were “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.”
Reversal of fortune
The outcome at the state Supreme Court marked what the News referred to as a “stunning end” to Craig’s bid to unseat Whitmer, particularly due to the fact that he enjoys significant name recognition and had been a front-runner in the Republican primary stakes for some time.
Michigan political consultant John Sellek remarked that it was unprecedented for a one-time leader in a gubernatorial primary contest to fail to even get their name on the ballot, characterizing Craig’s journey as an “historical collapse.”
The petition signature scandal that spurred the end of Craig’s candidacy and that of the other GOP hopefuls was also described as historic in nature, with Lansing-based consultant Adrian Hemond expressing shock at the incompetence and/or malfeasance that produced the eventual outcome.
“This will live on as a cautionary tale for candidates on both sides of the aisle of how important it is to get the basics right,” Hemond stated.
Now that the fate of the aforementioned Republicans has been settled by the state Supreme Court, the Aug. 2 GOP primary will be a battle among remaining candidates chiropractor Garrett Soldano, political pundit Tudor Dixon, real estate broker Ryan Kelley, and businessman Kevin Rinke, as The Daily Wire noted, and whether any of those individuals will be able to marshal the funding and the support needed to bring Whitmer’s reign to an end, only time will tell.