Democrats challenge petitions from 3 Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidates | News, Sports, Jobs


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Democratic Party said Wednesday it challenged the nomination petitions of the top three Republican gubernatorial candidates, alleging fake signatures and other issues that could prevent them from qualifying. for the GOP primary.

Complaints were filed Tuesday with the Board of State Solicitors over petitions submitted by former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, businessman Perry Johnson and former TV show host Tudor Dixon. conservative television. Michigan Strong, a Dixon-linked super PAC, filed a separate challenge alleging fraud against Craig, who led the polls and was among 10 Republicans who turned in signatures before last week’s deadline. The first winner will face Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the fall.

The Democrat-drafted complaint alleges that at least eight of Craig’s circulators engaged in a blacksmithing technique known as “round robin” – in which a small group of people forge signatures on several petition sheets using a list of real voters. Various signers mix their writing styles in an attempt to fake authenticity.

More than 6,900 of his more than 21,000 signatures were obtained this way and should be invalidated, according to the filing.

If true, that would put Craig below the 15,000 valid signatures needed to qualify for the August primary ballot. The challenge also states that faulty circulator certificates are expected to void approximately 1,900 signatures.


“I have never seen such evidence of tampering and fraud in a petition campaign in my nearly 40 years of practicing electoral law in Michigan,” said attorney Mark Brewer.

Michigan Strong spokesman Fred Wszolek said it was “super easy” to catch fraud, saying that the sheets of a Craig circulator, for example, all have similar handwriting and were submitted in sequential order. Craig’s campaign attempted to file an additional 4,200 signatures on April 19 to get more of a cushion, but was 20 minutes behind schedule, he said.

Craig’s campaign spokeswoman Marli Blackman said her campaign had “total confidence” in the signatures, qualifying the complaints as “last effort” by opponents who “terrified” by his support and dynamism.

The challenge against Dixon says his nearly 30,000 signatures should be discarded because the petitions incorrectly say the next governor’s term ends in 2026 when it expires Jan. 1, 2027.

Attorney Steven Liedel, who filed the complaint, said that while state law does not require a gubernatorial candidate to provide a term expiration date on a nomination petition, it does may not make false statements on the form if he does.


Dixon released a statement calling him a “Desperate and false challenge.” Democrats, she said, “will do anything to prevent Gretchen Whitmer from having to face me.”

The complaint against Johnson – a self-financier who spent more than $3 million on advertising – also alleges forgery, noting that his campaign used six circulators accused of forging Craig’s petitions. One of them also collected signatures for Dixon.

“There are enough quality control issues with Johnson’s petitions to seriously cast doubt on his candidacy,” Liedel said.

Johnson’s campaign consultant John Yob said Democrats are “afraid” of Johnson’s momentum.

“Even though every absurd accusation made by Democrats was legitimate, they still failed to challenge enough to impact his access to the ballot,” he said. “Perry will be on the ballot and we look forward to seeing the results of the more statistically consequential challenges thrown at the other candidates.”

The state’s office of elections will review the signatures of challenged candidates and make recommendations to the four-member bipartisan canvassing committee, likely in May. Ballots are printed in June. The council generally accepts the decisions.

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