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Five GOP candidates booted from ballot; court challenges coming

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It takes approval of a bipartisan majority on the four-person Board of State Canvassers for candidates to qualify, and while everyone agreed the situation is unprecedented, they disagreed on the remedy.

Democrats said it’s up to candidates to make sure their petitions are in order and that signature collectors have abided by the rules. Also, that a well-run petition operation serves as a basic qualification round for a campaign. Republican board member Tony Daunt said the candidates are the victims and should be allowed to appear on the ballot.

“Without question, a widespread and disgraceful effort to defraud the voters of the state has occurred,” he said. “Those who engaged in this effort deserve the full weight of the law to come down on them.”

Democratic board member Mary Ellen Gurewitz, a long-time elections lawyer, said she understands the candidates may feel like victims “… which is hard to stomach, quite frankly. It’s their obligation to check these signatures.”

Michigan State Police Captain Mike Brown is among those disqualified and announced earlier this week he had dropped out even if a future court ruling allows him on the ballot. Also disqualified were James Craig, Perry Johnson, Donna Brandenburg, and Michael Markey.

Craig, the former Detroit Police Chief and an early favorite of many party insiders, including Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser and former Governor John Engler, said he will sue to get his name on the ballot. Other candidates could do the same. The candidates will decide whether to file with the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Michigan Court of Claims, or ask for their case to go directly to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Republicans who will appear on the ballot are Tudor Dixon, Garrett Soldano, Kevin Rinke, Ryan Kelley, and Ralph Rebandt. The winner will face Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat running for a second term.

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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