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GOP candidate's primary ballot-access complaint tossed by state court

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Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig has been dealt a setback in his lawsuit to join the Republican gubernatorial primary ballot.

Craig was among several candidates affected by a group of nominating petition circulators accused of faking signatures.

He sued the Michigan Board of State Canvassers last week after it deadlocked on whether he still qualified for the ballot after excluding the alleged fraudsters’ work.

Now the Michigan Court of Claims has thrown out the complaint, citing a decision in a similar lawsuit dismissed in the Court of Appeals.

“I am very disappointed with the Court of Claims’ decision. I am also discouraged by their complete disregard to the law and case precedent. It is clearly stated that the Bureau of Elections must go line by line in order invalidate a signature,” Craig said in a written statement after his case was dismissed.

The similar case involved fellow Republican candidate Perry Johnson. It came down to whether the board had to check each signature individually after finding a pattern of suspected fraud.

Both courts decided it didn’t.

“The Board had the discretion to disqualify their obviously fraudulent signatures without checking the signatures against local registration records. The Board, therefore, had a clear legal duty to investigate, but it did not have a clear legal duty to conduct a comparison,” the Johnson case read.

Craig said he’ll appeal the ruling to the Michigan Supreme Court.

“We will continue to fight for our campaign to be on the August primary ballot as a Republican candidate for Governor. The voters should be deciding who their candidates are, not an unelected board of government bureaucrats,” his statement went on to read.

His appeal had not yet been listed on the Michigan Supreme Court website homepage as of Thursday evening.

But appeals for Johnson, Michael Markey, whose case was similarly dismissed in appellate court, and Donna Brandenburg, who filed her case directly with the Michigan Supreme Court, had been listed.

Brandenburg's filing claimed her situation differed from the other two candidates. She said the Bureau of Elections did not consider the breadth of signatures she turned in when evaluating her case.

Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Colin Jackson