WATCH: Michigan Reporters Discuss Mass Forgery Scandal That Threw the Gubernatorial Primary Into Further Chaos

Last Friday, Michigan’s Supreme Court declined to move forward with complaints to restore James Craig, Perry Johnson, and others after all were caught submitting tens of thousands of forged signatures in order to qualify for the ballot. 

On the most recent installment of ‘Off the Record,’ Michigan reporters discussed how the biggest ballot access scandal in Michigan political history shook up the Republican gubernatorial primary.

WATCH and read excerpts below on where the chaotic and still crowded primary stands with less than two months to go:

First, Republican consultant Jamie Roe reacted to the removal of James Craig and Perry Johnson.

Republican consultant JAMIE ROE: James Craig had the highest name ID in the top standing in the polls. And Perry Johnson had a lot of money. So that’s two big players taken out. Yeah, I still find it unfathomable how two serious candidates were so cavalier about their ballot access.

Panelists discussed how this shakeup will impact the rest of the race, now that both frontrunners have been eliminated.

SKUBICK: […] So first, there were 10 and now there are five, maybe Ben.

BEN SOLIS (Gongwer): Yeah, they whittled down that field pretty quickly. […] It’s interesting to see this many candidates eliminated from the ballot. I think we threw around the word ‘unprecedented’ more times than I’ve heard in our newsroom last week when this came down. […]

LAUREN GIBBONS (Bridge Michigan): […] It seems as though everything’s a little unprecedented lately, but this goes in line with that trend. As your piece mentioned, the two essentially frontrunners – the one with the most name ID and the most money – are just non-factors at this juncture. 

SKUBICK: Astounding, absolutely astounding.

GIBBONS: It is. You know, no one would have predicted this even a month ago, right? […] This situation has really rocked the governor’s race. […] This has really reshaped the field of the GOP race, and it remains to be seen exactly how much it will impact the primary overall. I think it kind of depends on what the candidates ultimately decide to do…Will they accept those results, maybe endorse another candidate, or will they continue to push back on this?

Panelists speculated that eliminated candidates may wage write-in campaigns, showing that the Republican primary remains far from settled.

CHUCK STOKES (WXYZ): […] My gracious! I can’t remember ever seeing anything like this in the state of Michigan. And then you have to raise the question about, you know, campaign ads where Perry Johnson says, I’m the quality guru. Well it starts to say, Okay, well, what’s the real definition of quality if indeed this is indicative of how a campaign’s run. And you think about the old Harry Truman: the buck stops at your desk. Ultimate responsibility for your campaign is the candidate. You can blame all kinds of people but, the courts so far aren’t buying it. Will they eventually have to run as write-in candidates? I mean, that’s an awfully high bar to do. That’s a heavy lift in a state this big. But we’ll see. […]

SKUBICK: Well, for the people that are left standing, taking the big shooter who has the most money and the one who is going to do quite well in Detroit, […] If you take those two factors out of this race, this is a whole new ballgame. This is a new ground to be plowed. […]

GIBBONS: […] You know, it would be premature at this point to say you know that Tudor Dixon has it in the bags by any means. We’ve clearly seen that this race can change very quickly. […] What do [newly disqualified candidates] end up doing? If they do decide to, you know, launch write-ins or potentially continue to try and contest this somehow. I think it’s a fresh, completely different ballgame than it was even a week ago.

STOKES: […] A whole lot can change between now and November.

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