“They Have the Ultimate Responsibility”: Gubernatorial Republicans Indicted for Fraudulent Behavior Refuse to Hold Themselves Accountable for Submitting Thousands of Bogus Signatures

“I don’t want to make excuses” – James Craig, right after making several excuses

Excuses abound in the wake of the mass and blatant fraudulent activity amounting to what could be the biggest ballot shakeup in Michigan political history.

This week, the Bureau of Elections evaluated challenges made against James Craig, Tudor Dixon, and Perry Johnson concerning their submission of invalid, forged signatures – including from  dead voters and an illegal “round robin” forging scheme in which “a small group of people sign[ing] names and addresses in turn, one per sheet, using a voter list.” 

In doing so, the Bureau recommended James Craig, Perry Johnson, Mike Brown, Michael Markey, and Donna Brandenburg should not be included on the August primary ballot due to submitting an insufficient amount of valid signatures. The Board of Canvassers will vote tomorrow at a meeting and determine who to certify to appear on the ballot. 

In the meantime, candidates have clearly demonstrated an unwillingness to accept any responsibility for their lawless campaigns. 

James Craig Has Spread Baseless Conspiracy Theories as Campaign Experts Reiterate That Candidates Bear Responsibility for Ensuring Submitted Signatures are Valid

Detroit Free Press: “I do believe this was a well-planned and orchestrated effort to get me off the ballot,” Craig said in an interview with the Free Press. “I’m being robbed of the opportunity to be on the ballot and let Michigan voters decide who should represent the GOP.”

Craig said he is investigating and not ready to say who might have been behind such an effort. He was once the consensus frontrunner in the race to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but his campaign has suffered a series of missteps. […]

Campaign experts say the onus is on candidates to vet signatures to ensure they are valid before submitting them. […]

Detroit News: Candidates disqualified Thursday could appeal the decision in court, but they’re unlikely to succeed since state election law clearly places the onus of presenting sufficient nominating signatures on the shoulders of the candidates themselves, not the hired help, said retired election lawyer John Pirich. 

“They have the ultimate responsibility,” Pirich said. 

Talking Points Memo: [Republican Board of Canvassers member Tony] Daunt told Bridge Michigan earlier this month that, “whether I agree with the candidate, whether I’ll disagree with the candidate, if they haven’t met the requirements of the law, then they’re not fit to run for office or to have ballot access.” 

FOX 2 Detroit: Norm Shinkle, the Republican chair of the board that will hold a hearing on these charges this week, says he’s willing to listen to what those candidates have to say, but advises them, this is what they have to prove.

“They have to say the review was improper and that these signatures are not fraudulent, they are valid,” Shinkle said.

Bridge Michigan: Other Republicans, however, said the rules are clear and candidates have followed them for years without trouble.

Jamie Roe, a GOP consultant working with gubernatorial candidate Kevin Rinke, said “it’s ultimately the campaign’s responsibility” to check the validity of signatures. Rinke’s petitions were not challenged.

“It’s dumbfounding that the campaigns let this stuff get through,” Roe told Bridge Michigan. “You have to have quality control. The fact that the ‘quality guru’ is one of them is just amazing,” he added, referencing Johnson, whose campaign has branded him as a “quality guru.” […]

But even if they still make the ballot, experts say Craig and Johnson have failed what amounts to an early test of whether they could organize campaigns capable of making the ballot. 

“The fact that they were hiring people that were unable to accurately collect signatures was a bad omen for their potential gubernatorial (tenure),” said Andrea Bitely of the Truscott-Rossman public relations firm, who worked as an aide to former Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican. […]

Craig entered the race as the presumed frontrunner, but his campaign had problems from the start. He was drowned out by protesters during a launch event on Belle Isle in Detroit. He cycled through campaign staff and missed a debate this month in Livingston County after organizers say he promised to attend.

“We’re seeing what happens when you gain that frontrunner status but you aren’t necessarily in a position to have actually earned it,” Bitely said.

The Fraudulent Actions of Gubernatorial Republicans Have Thrown the Primary Into Further Chaos Just Weeks Before Michiganders Start Casting Ballots

MIRS: “For a year, Craig was unbeatable by anyone in the GOP,” [Republican strategist John] Sellek added. “In the end, he beat himself. The collapse of the James Craig campaign goes down as the biggest since John CHERRY in 2010 and likely is the greatest in Michigan history.”

Detroit News (Finley column): What was a 10-person field at the start of the week likely will be cut in half, taking out, in Craig, the only candidate with a modicum of statewide name recognition and, in Johnson, a guy willing to spend as much of his personal fortune as necessary to win.

Though large in number, the list of GOP hopefuls was distinguished by its mediocrity. Only one of the 10 — Brown, a former county commissioner — ever held political office before.

Now, what’s left is not much. 

Detroit News: The Republican race to be Michigan’s next governor veered Tuesday toward an unexpected reset a day after the Bureau of Elections found that five of the 10 GOP candidates failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to get their names on the ballot. […]

“This is a complete circus of a race now,” Czuba said. “Nobody knows any of these candidates. We don’t know where this is going to go. We just don’t.”

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