Elections Office: 5 GOP gubernatorial candidates not expected to reach Aug. 2 ballot | Michigan

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(The Center Square) — The State Board of Solicitors will determine on Thursday whether five gubernatorial candidates will reach the Aug. 2 primary after a report says they failed to collect the 15,000 valid signature threshold.

A report from the Michigan Bureau of Elections indicates that five candidates should not go to the polls:

  • Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig: 10,192 valid signatures, 11,113 invalid signatures.
  • Perry Johnson: 13,800 facially valid signatures, 9,393 invalid signatures.
  • Michael Brown: 7,091 facially valid signatures, 13,809 invalid signatures.
  • Michael Markey: 4,430 facially valid signatures, 17,374 invalid signatures.
  • Donna Brandenburg: 6,634 facially valid signatures, 11,144 invalid signatures.

Released Monday evening, the report found that 36 petition distributors forged entire petition sheets totaling at least 68,000 signatures on 10 nomination petitions.

If those five are disqualified, that would leave Tudor Dixon, Garrett Soldano, Ryan Kelley, Ralph Rebandt, and Kevin Rinke as GOP contenders.

In a staff report, the office said 36 petitioners “submitted fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures.”

The office said it was “not aware of another election cycle in which so many voters submitted such a large volume of fraudulent petition sheets consisting of invalid signatures.”

“In total, the office estimates that these circulators submitted at least 68,000 invalid signatures submitted across 10 rounds of nomination petitions,” the report said. “In several cases, the number of invalid signatures submitted by these circulators was the reason an applicant had an insufficient number of valid signatures.”

Dixon had 29,041 facially valid signatures out of 29,240. Democrats challenged Dixon’s nomination, but the report rejected the challenge.

The DeVos family of Michigan endorsed Dixon on Monday. She is also backed by former President Donald Trump.

The Board of State Solicitors, a four-person bipartisan panel, will meet Thursday to discuss whether they are following or breaking the recommendations.

Jon Yob, consultant for Johnson, mentioned he plans to fight in front of the National Board of Solicitors and in court to keep some of the signatures collected by suspected forgers.

It’s unclear why petition distributors have targeted this race or if distributors are also forging signatures on many concurrent ballot measures, including raising the minimum wage, capping the annual percentage of payday loans is 36%, creating state-based abortion rights, requiring ID and partial social security numbers to vote, and limiting emergency service orders state and local health authorities at 28 days.

The winner of the Aug. 2 primary will face current Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

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