Michigan Supreme Court makes final decision on fate of GOP gubernatorial hopefuls’ candidacies

A trio of Michigan Supreme Court decisions Friday will effectively keep three Republican candidates for governor off the primary ballot.

“James Craig, the former Detroit Police Chief who had led all polls, won’t be on the Aug. 2 ballot. Neither will Perry Johnson, the self-described ‘quality guru’ who already spent millions of his own money on the campaign or Grand Haven financial adviser Michael Markey,” Bridge Michigan reported.

All three candidates appealed to the Supreme Court after they were disqualified from appearing on the ballot by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, filed suit, and then lost their cases in lower courts, according to MLive.com.

Two other candidates were also disqualified: businesswoman Donna Brandenburg, who filed suit but whose case did not receive a ruling Friday by the state’s high court, and Michigan State Police Capt. Michael Brown, who dropped out of the race last month.

So why were the candidates disqualified in the first place? The Detroit News provided a concise summary of the situation:

“The Michigan Bureau of Elections on May 23 released reports indicating the five candidates for governor hadn’t submitted the required 15,000 valid petition signatures needed to appear on the August primary ballot because of a large swatch of the signatures appeared to be forged,” the outlet said.

“The Bureau of Elections said it believed 36 petition circulators ‘submitted fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures.’ The bureau said it was ‘unaware of another election cycle in which this many circulators submitted such a substantial volume of fraudulent petition sheets consisting of invalid signatures.'”

Ultimately, the five GOP candidates, who were vying to face off against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November, were disqualified from appearing on the GOP primary ballot. Four of them filed suit.

“Republican candidates challenging the decision have argued that the bureau should have examined each and every signature for validity instead of relying on a spot check of about 7,000 of the 68,000 alleged forgeries,” The Detroit News said.

Thus far, their lawsuits have been to no avail.

“There is nothing here meriting our further time or attention,” Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack wrote in the majority opinion that declines to hear Johnson’s appeal.

“The plaintiff’s mandamus action plainly lacks merit because he cannot show that the Board of State Canvassers had a clear legal duty to certify his name to the ballot.”

According to Michigan political consultant John Sellek, it’s the first time a gubernatorial candidate has consistently led in the primary polls for a year, as Craig did, only to end up not even making the ballot.

It’s “something we’ve never seen before,” he told Bridge Michigan.