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Michigan’s Supreme Court has denied calls by several Republican gubernatorial candidates to appear on the primary ballot after the state’s Council of State Solicitors disqualified them following a problem with petition signatures fraudulent.
Friday’s ruling from the state’s highest court means former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, businessman Perry Johnson, financial adviser Michael Markey and businesswoman Donna Brandenburg will not will not present themselves in the primary ballot on August 2 despite attempts to challenge their disqualifications.
Earlier in the day, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig vowed to fight to be included in Michigan’s Republican gubernatorial primary ballot in the state Supreme Court just days after a lower court denied his appeal of a ruling by state election officials declaring him ineligible. .
Speaking to Fox News Digital on Friday, Craig didn’t express much optimism about his chances of staying on the ballot, noting that Michigan’s Supreme Court was made up of 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans, but did left open the possibility of launching a write-in campaign if his challenge fails.
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Once a frontrunner in the race, Craig was declared ineligible for the ballot last week after state election officials said he failed to obtain the 15,000 petition signatures needed to qualify for a spot, because too many of them were fraudulent.
Johnson, Markey and Brandenburg also failed to meet the signing threshold due to a similar issue with fraudulent signings.
On May 23, the Michigan Bureau of Elections submitted a report stating that they had identified 36 paid petition distributors responsible for collecting signatures who had forged thousands of signatures for several candidates.
The Michigan Board of State Solicitors, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, then split along party lines on whether to allow candidates who then fell below the required 15,000 signatures after pulling the sheets. signatures submitted by the 36 petitioners to access the ballot. The tie resulted in these candidates not being allowed on the ballot.
Craig argued that his favorite status made him a target and blamed partisanship for the reason he was disqualified.
“I have very deep concerns… I wish I had been more optimistic about my return to the ballot, but everything is so partisan these days,” he said.
“The [Michigan] Council of State canvassers admitted their methodology was flawed, then said they had neither the resources nor the time to go back and review everything,” he added, appearing to do so. reference to the decision to throw away the sheets of the 36 petitioners rather than going through them line by line.
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Craig noted that Johnson, who also challenged the decision of the Board of State Solicitors, had his case dismissed by the Michigan Court of Appeals and therefore he was going “straight to the Supreme Court.”
“But since it’s all so partisan, I predict the same thing will probably happen again,” he said. “So my other option is to run as a written candidate, and that’s a very expensive undertaking, so we’ll look at that option if necessary, and make that decision, and I’ll have more to say then,” he said. said.
Craig later clarified that a possible write-in campaign would be for the primary, not the general election, though it was not immediately clear whether party or state rules would allow votes for write-in candidates during of a primary election.
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The disqualification of Craig, Johnson, Markey and Brandenburg left five candidates still in the running for the Republican nomination, including businesswoman Tudor Dixon, businessman Kevin Rinke, chiropractor Garrett Soldano, real estate broker Ryan Kelley and church pastor Ralph Rebandt.
Fox News Digital also spoke with a number of the remaining candidates for their reaction to the race developments.
Soldano boasted about his campaign securing the required number of signatures and wondered how candidates unable to meet the requirement could run the state.
“It’s throwing red flags at me,” he said, crediting his “grassroots-driven” campaign for meeting the signature requirement.
Dixon pointed to the opportunity given to the remaining campaigns with the disqualifications.
‘It gives us space to get our message across,’ she said, adding that while it was ‘unfortunate’ for the disqualified candidates, it was ‘wonderful’ for those who remained in the running. .
Dixon didn’t hesitate when asked about the potential for a write-in campaign from Craig, saying she would continue to run her race “in exactly the same way”.
Rinke said his campaign “had a plan” before the other candidates’ signing issues arose and that they would “continue to execute on that plan” regardless of the outcome.
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Asked about a possible written campaign by Craig, Rinke replied, “The chief is going to do what the chief is going to do.” He then suggested that Craig would not be allowed to run a write-in campaign for a primary and said it would have to be for the general election if he decided to do so.
Fox News Digital contacted Johnson’s campaign, but he could not be interviewed due to scheduling conflicts.