The last hopes for three Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidates to get on the ballot for the August primary were slashed by the Michigan Supreme Court Friday.
In three separate 6-1 rulings, the state’s highest court upheld the recommendations of the Michigan Bureau of Elections to keep former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, businessman Perry Johnson, and financial adviser Michael Markey off the ballot for the Republican primary, the Detroit News reported.
The justices were “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court,” according to The New York Times.
All three candidates failed to reach the required 15,000 ballot petition signatures after the Michigan Bureau of Elections found they had submitted fraudulent signatures.
The decision throws the Michigan GOP primary race into chaos as Craig was the clear favorite to win the Party’s primary and challenge Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November.
According to the Bureau of Elections, “the number of signatures removed from the total after the review of fraudulent-petition circulators were such that Mr. Craig was already far below the minimum threshold for ballot access.”
Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater testified during a hearing before the Michigan Board of State Canvassers last week that his team checked 7,000 out of 68,000 signatures they suspected of being fraudulent, and found that none of them were legitimate. Based on this finding, Brater said his staff is “confident in saying these signatures should not be counted.”
The Board of Canvassers, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, came to split decisions after the hearing, meaning the candidates were ineligible to appear on the ballot.
Following the decisions, Craig promised to take his case to court. “We will be filing an immediate appeal in the courts,” Craig said in a statement. “We are confident that when the law is justly applied, our campaign will be on the ballot this August.”
Craig’s attorney George Lewis also fought back, claiming the Bureau of Elections violated state law by not checking every single signature they suspected of being fraudulent. Lewis also said he has affidavits from 15 voters, who signed on suspected fraudulent petition sheets, claiming they legitimately signed their name.
Without the Party’s most well-known candidate in Craig and best-funded candidate in Johnson, Republicans must decide between five remaining gubernatorial hopefuls.
The five candidates who are set to appear on the ballot for the August 2 primary are political commentator Tudor Dixon, chiropractor Garrett Soldano, Pastor Ralph Rebandt, businessman Kevin Rinke, and real estate broker Ryan Kelley.