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Republicans make last-minute appeal in effort to be on primary ballot in Governor's race

 One of the petition sheets submitted by a petition circulator deemed to have submitted numerous fraudulent signatures
Complaint filed with Michigan Supreme Court by Donna Brandenburg
One of the petition sheets submitted by a petition circulator deemed to have submitted numerous fraudulent signatures

Efforts have come down to the wire for several Republican gubernatorial hopefuls trying to get on their party's primary ballot.

The statutory deadline for the Michigan Secretary of State to finalize this year's ballots is Friday. On Thursday, Donna Brandenburg, Perry Johnson, and Michael Markey filed pleadings with the Michigan Supreme Court to be included in the GOP candidate field.

They asked the court to either order their names added to the ballots, or extend the time period for the finalization of ballots. The state set June 3 as the deadline so it has enough time to get ballots to overseas and military voters.

Brandenburg, Johnson, and Markey, as well as James Craig, and Michael Brown, were among candidates who had been left off the ballot because election officials determined they hadn't submitted enough valid petition signatures.

State elections bureau staff said signature-gatherers for some candidates engaged in fraud, and after discounting fraudulent signatures, the candidates did not have enough legitimate signatures remaining to meet the 15,000 signature threshold required to run in the Republican primary.

But candidates appealing to the state supreme court argue, among other claims, that the Bureau of Elections failed to compare all the submitted signatures to those in the Qualified Voter File maintained by the Secretary of State.

The Bureau of Elections said it compared about 7,000 of 68,000 suspected fake signatures to the voter file and confirmed the signatures were invalid. The Bureau recommended the Michigan Board of State Canvassers declare the candidates ineligible to be on the ballot. The Board deadlocked along party lines, 2-2, which resulted in the recommendation carrying.

Candidate James Craig, a former Detroit Police chief whose case was tossed by state Court of Claims Thursday, said he also planned to appeal to the Supreme Court, but his pleadings were not listed as received by the court as of late Thursday.

Michael Brown elected to drop out of the race.

If the Supreme Court does not intervene, five GOP gubernatorial candidates will be on the ballot for the upcoming primary. They include Norton Shores businesswoman Tudor Dixon, Ottawa County real estate agent Ryan Kelley, Farmington Hills pastor Ralph Rebandt, Bloomfield Hills businessman Kevin Rinke and Kalamazoo chiropractor Garrett Soldano.

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

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.