- The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday denied the appeals of three GOP candidates who attempted to appear on the ballot.
- The candidates – all of whom were running for governor – were disqualified due to forged petition signatures.
- Concerned Republicans could potentially conduct enlistment campaigns for the August 2 primary.
The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday denied appeals from several GOP gubernatorial candidates to run in the August primary, the result of state election officials saying each campaign submitted forged petition signatures.
Among the candidates left out of the election are former Detroit Police Commissioner James Craig, who for months was thought to be the front-runner in the race, and businessmen Perry Johnson and Michael Markey Jr.
The judges – who ruled 6-1 in all three cases – said they were “unconvinced by the court that the questions submitted should be reviewed”.
State election officials found that Republican candidates lacked the required number of signatures to qualify for the primary, with thousands of invalid signatures discovered. However, officials also said there was no evidence that the disqualified candidates were aware of the extensive nature of the signatures submitted.
Prior to the appeals, the Election Committee was deadlocked 2-2 last month in allowing the five candidates to appear on the ballot, according to The Detroit Free Press. Since the panel did not bring about a majority decision, the five candidates were not allowed to vote.
When filing their first papers, gubernatorial candidates were required to submit at least 15,000 signatures and were instructed not to exceed 30,000 signatures.
Republican candidates – who have widely criticized the process as being dictated by politics – could potentially launch election campaigns, but it remains unclear how most of them will proceed. Two other candidates were also eliminated from the vote: businesswoman Donna Brandenburg and Michigan State Police Capt. Mike Brown, who withdrew from the race.
A total of five Republicans were barred from voting because of forged signatures.
GOP candidates who will appear on the ballot include businesswoman Tudor Dixon; Rev. Ralph Rebandt; real estate agent Ryan Kelley; businessman Kevin Rinke; and chiropractor Garrett Soldano.
The decision puts the party in a difficult position; It had viewed the Michigan governor’s race as a hard-fought race in a key Midwest state, backing former President Donald Trump in 2016 before switching to President Joe Biden in 2020.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is running for a second term, and the absence of a senior candidate on the ballot has muddled the GOP’s chances of winning in the fall, despite what is expected to be a favorable political climate that Republicans will enjoy.
Republicans have spent much of the last two years attacking Whitmer over how her coronavirus restrictions are affecting the state, but she currently finds herself in a solid position among the state’s voters heading into the November contest.
In a May poll conducted by Lansing-based Target Insyght, Whitmer led all potential GOP opponents by double-digit margins, and was well above the 50 percent mark in every matchup.
However, according to Target Insyght executive Ed Sarpolus, the Republicans could easily rejoin the group and return the race to the close competition most observers predicted.
“It would be wrong for me as a pollster to say Gretchen is doing a great job right now, she’s going to win re-election,” he told Deadline Detroit. “No, this poll shows Republicans are upset. Although Republicans are leaning toward Gretchen or are undecided, they still give Gretchen a negative job rating.”
The primary will take place on August 2nd.