LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Republican Party is calling for a thorough recount after a total of five GOP candidates running for governor, including front runners James Craig and Perry Johnson, didn't collect enough petition signatures to get on the primary ballot according to the Michigan Bureau of Elections.
“We’ve got to make sure that an investigation is opened up about this," said Gus Portela a spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party.
Portela calls the potential disqualification of five candidates "unprecedented" and cited issues with the disqualification process.
“The way some of these candidates were recommended for disqualification, it goes against the Michigan law, which currently states that you have to go signature-by-signature as opposed to what they did, which was unprecedented," he said.
But a report from the Bureau of Elections estimates that at least 68,000 signatures submitted across 10 sets of nominating petitions are invalid. About 11,000 of Craig’s signatures were invalid which places him well below the required 15,000 signatures needed to be on the ballot.
"To my knowledge, I think this is the first time that so many candidates have been disqualified from the ballot. Obviously, this has happened before in Michigan politics, but this is sort of an unprecedentedly large field of candidates for a gubernatorial race," said Simon Schuster, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
Some of the most glaring examples of fraud include repeat names, clearly forged signatures, and instances of round robining— where petition circulators pass petitions in a circle and forge signatures.
On one sheet of Craig's petition the handwriting across each signature is basically the same, indicating the circulator filled out the sheet and didn’t bother to vary their handwriting. If the candidates are disqualified that could have a significant impact on the race.
“So financially, I think that this is going to have a significant impact because with such a broad field, there hasn't really been sort of a coalescing of financial resources around a few front runners," Schuster said. "But since we've sort of since we stand to see the GOP field shrink by half, we're going to see more support coalescing around a few candidates.”
That could already be happening. On Monday the DeVos family threw their support and funding behind Tudor Dixon.
"They have significant financial resources to bear…And so they have outsized influence as well," Schuster said.
The process isn't over just yet, the Board of State Canvassers will review the bureau's findings on Thursday.
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