5 GOP Michigan gubernatorial candidates may be off August primary ballot

Elections bureau found thousands of fake signatures on ballot petition
5 Republican Michigan gubernatorial candidates may be off the ballot
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 7:02 PM EDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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UPDATE: State Board of Canvassers disqualify 5 GOP candidates from ballot

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - We may not have to wait until the August primary to whittle down the Republican field in Michigan’s race for governor.

Five of the ten candidates may be off the ballot by the end of this week. The State Board of Canvassers will look at a report from the State Elections Bureau that claims five Republican candidates turned in thousands of fake signatures to get on the ballot.

Political experts told News 10 they’ve never seen anything like this.

“This is the first time we’ve seen a huge operation like this,” political consultant Mark Grebner.

The Bureau of Elections said Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown, James Craig, Perry Johnson and Michael Markey didn’t meet the 15,000 valid signature threshold to be on the ballot.

Read: Half of Michigan’s GOP gubernatorial candidates reportedly don’t qualify for Primary Election

The Bureau noticed most of the fake signatures came from the same signature gatherers.

Grebner has worked in state politics for years and now runs a consulting firm. He said those people were paid millions to collect those signatures.

“The pay for signatures is so high now for nominating petitions that somebody who just sat in their basement and wrote names on a petition could easily make two or four thousand dollars a day,” said Grebner.

He said we likely are seeing half the Republican field caught up in this because petition gatherers are in short supply.

“It just put a lot of pressure on the folks who normally do the hustling to come with these signatures and many found a great shortcut,” said Grebner.

“Those that committed fraud should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Gustavo Portela, Michigan Republican Party spokesman.

Portela said the GOP would like to see voters have a choice with the field of 10.

“The Republican Party ultimately stands for giving voters a choice this fall and through this fall with these important candidates for governor,” said Portela.

And Grebner said this signature scandal is turning the August primary wide open.

“The big impact has been that suddenly the republican doesn’t include the front runners. They all got wiped out. So as obscure the candidates were in the first place, they’re really obscure now,” said Grebner.

Craig is asking Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate the signature collectors. Nessel’s office told News 10 it hasn’t gotten a formal request from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office to start that investigation as of Tuesday evening.

Update: Attorney General Nessel to investigate 5 gubernatorial campaigns

The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers will have the ultimate decision to put the five candidates on the ballot. It will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Senate Room at Boji Tower in Lansing.

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