Michigan’s State Board of Canvassers disqualify several GOP candidates from ballot

Those include James Craig, Perry Johnson, Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown, and Michael Markey.
5 Republican candidates off primary ballot
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 9:05 AM EDT|Updated: May. 27, 2022 at 9:40 AM EDT
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correction: In a previous version of this story, WILX incorrectly listed Michigan State Senator Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) as one of the Michigan Gubernatorial candidates who was disqualified for the August statewide primary ballot. Senator Barrett is the Republican candidate for Michigan’s new 7th Congressional District and will appear on November’s ballot against first term incumbent Democrat, Rep. Elissa Slotkin. We apologize for the error.

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The State Board of Canvassers met Thursday to consider whether the validity of nominating petitions submitted by gubernatorial candidates, candidates for state representatives, and several judges.

In a deadlocked 2-2 decision, split along party lines, five Republican candidates for governor were disqualified from the ballot. They are James Craig, Perry Johnson, Donna Brandenburg, Michael Markey Jr. and Michael Brown. The decision disqualifies the candidates by default, according to State Elections Director Jonathan Baker.

The Republicans who remain on the ballot are Tudor Dixon, Kevin Rinke, Ryan Kelley, Garrett Soldano and pastor Ralph Rebandt.

The issue was raised when the Bureau of Elections said they noticed discrepancies in the signatures submitted by Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown, James Craig, Perry Johnson and Michael Markey, which meant they didn’t meet the 15,000 valid signature threshold to be on the ballot. According to the Bureau, most of the fake signatures came from the same signature gatherers.

The debate came down to one question: How much responsibility does a candidate bear for the legitimacy of the signatures they turn in?

While the Democrats on the State Board of Canvassers agreed with the concerns of the Bureau of Elections, Republicans from the Board wanted the gubernatorial candidates approved.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser released a statement following the ruling, expressing frustration that the candidates would suffer consequences because of the potential fraud from a third party hired to collect signatures.

“We’re going to continue to closely monitor the situation from here on out as campaigns continue through their challenging process,” said Chairman Weiser. “The way this bureau deviated from its historical practice is unprecedented and I think the arguments laid out by the challengers should have their time in court. This is about fighting against voter disenfranchisement and for choice at the ballot box.”

The stance of Michigan Democrats is staunchly on the reverse. Party officials said they believe the candidates bear the responsibility for their signature gathering operations, regardless of who was hired to do it.

“Candidates have clearly demonstrated an unwillingness to accept any responsibility for their lawless campaigns,” MIDems wrote of the decision on their website. “Excuses abound in the wake of the mass and blatant fraudulent activity amounting to what could be the biggest ballot shakeup in Michigan political history.”

The candidates have a chance to appeal the ruling of the State Board of Canvassers, and so far two campaigns have signaled that they intend to.

The campaigns of both James Craig and Perry Johnson said they were confident they would be on the ballot in August, and expressed an intent to request a court review of the matter.

Update: Perry Johnson files lawsuit after being removed from Michigan primary governor ballot

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