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Some Republican nominees fail to file enough valid signatures to qualify for primary

Potential Republican nominees for governor could be out of the race before the competition has even started.
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 4:50 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) – Five of the top Republican gubernatorial candidates looking to unseat Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in this November election have hit a big snag that may not allow them to run for governor.

“This is an unusual amount of fraud in the collection of signatures,” said Jonathan Hanson, statistics for public policy lecturer at the University of Michigan.

Potential Republican nominees for governor could be out of the race before the competition has even started. Michigan’s Elections Bureau has reported five candidates, including front runners James Craig and Perry Johnson, failed to file enough valid nominating signatures to qualify for the August primary.

Experts say volunteers gather the signatures, but they’re often backed by paying companies.

“Since the signature gatherers are essentially turned loose in the field to get the signatures, there’s very little supervision. And because this is a kind of peace work where they get paid for each signature that they collect, you know, there’s inclination to hedge or to cheat in some way,” said Michael Traugott, research professor for the University of Michigan Center for Political Studies.

In order to be added to the ballot, candidates must submit 15,000 valid signatures to qualify.

“The fact that these candidates were not able to get a relatively modest amount of signatures, 16,000 signatures out of millions of voters, is indicative of the idea that it’s pretty easy to run for office,” Hanson said.

The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers is expected to meet on Thursday to consider the bureau’s recommendation. Political experts say the decision will end the Republican candidates’ campaigns.

“The fact that there isn’t any real legal recourse doesn’t mean that somebody won’t file a suit, but it’s highly unlikely that the suit would have any success in the courts,” Traugott said.

The experts also say what is happening should send a message to voters about the integrity of the election process.

“We have checks in the system to make sure that, you know, the law is followed and that appropriate steps were followed. And this is a demonstration of the quality of election administration in the state of Michigan,” Traugott said.

TV5 reached out to Craig, the Board of State Canvassers, and the Bureau of Elections but have not heard back.