Michigan bureau: 2 top GOP governor candidates short sigs

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s elections bureau said late Monday that five Republican candidates for governor, including two leading contenders, failed to file enough valid nominating signatures and should not qualify for the August primary.

The recommendations immediately transformed the race and dealt a major blow to former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who has led in polling despite campaign problems, and businessman Perry Johnson, who has spent millions of his own money to run. Democrats had challenged their petitions, alleging forgery, duplicates and other issues. Another GOP candidate, Tudor Dixon, had also contested Craig’s voter signatures as forged.

The bipartisan, four-member Board of State Canvassers will meet Thursday to consider the elections bureau’s findings. Republican candidates, who are vying to face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November, could end up going to court if they do not make the ballot.

Bureau staff also determined that three other lesser-known GOP candidates whose signatures were not challenged — Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown and Michael Markey — did not turn in enough valid ones.

If the canvassers agree with the recommendations, the 10-person field of political newcomers would be cut in half to five. Those qualifying for the ballot would be Dixon, a former conservative TV news host; chiropractor and grassroots activist Garrett Soldano; wealthy businessman Kevin Rinke; real estate broker and anti-coronavirus lockdown activist Ryan Kelley; and pastor Ralph Rebandt.

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