Michigan election bureau says 5 GOP challengers to Democrat Gov. Whitmer ineligible over signatures

Among those flagged by the board is frontrunner James Craig, Detroit's former police chief.

Published: May 24, 2022 11:06am

Updated: May 24, 2022 3:30pm

The Michigan Bureau of Elections has ruled that five GOP candidates running to unseat Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are not eligible for the state's August primary because of faulty signatures on their campaign petitions.

The agency says the petitions in question include signatures from people paid to sign their names and the names of the deceased — a finding at least one campaign disputes.

Released Monday night, the bureau's report alleged that 18 petition circulators hired by GOP frontrunner James Craig, Detroit's former police chief, submitted 10,000 invalid signatures. 

Businessman Perry Johnson also fell below the minimum verified signature threshold of 15,000 after the bureau identified about 9,400 invalid signatures. 

"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," said John Yob, a consultant for the Johnson campaign. 

Three other GOP candidates for the state's top job were also found to have insufficient signatures, including financial adviser Michael Market, Michigan State Police Capt. Michael Brown and entrepreneur Donna Brandenburg.

On Thursday, the state Board of Canvassers (comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans) will meet and decide whether the candidates will be able to appear on the ballot. If the bureau's review holds, five of the 10 GOP candidates will be out of the race.

Michigan political consultant John Sellek says the findings are great news for other GOP primary candidates. 

"It was a fantastic day for Garrett Soldano, Kevin Rinke and especially Tudor Dixon, who got a major endorsement and needed financial support at the same time both the leading candidate and biggest self-funder are out of the race," he told the Detroit News.

Dixon received the endorsement of Michigan's wealthy and politically prominent DeVos family on Monday.

Regardless of how the board decides, candidates also will be able to take their cases to court and argue for a spot on the ballot.

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