Okay, that is a Thanos quote, but can you really blame us? It has certainly been a week for the history books as *half* the Republican gubernatorial field own-goaled themselves out of the running. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. Here’s what you missed.
…And Then There Were (At Least) Five, or, Goat Rodeos Ain’t Nothing to Mess With
At this point, we know the CliffsNotes.
James Craig, Perry Johnson, and Tudor Dixon were implicated in a blatantly obvious round-robining scheme which yielded nominating petition sheets rife with forgeries and signatures belonging to dead voters. Challenges were filed with the Bureau of Elections on all three, featuring an assist from Dixon herself with her PAC’s separate challenge noting the significant fraud on Craig’s petitions.
The Bureau of Elections undertook a thorough investigation that turned up 68,000 fraudulent signatures that were submitted and recommended the exclusion of Craig, Johnson, and the unchallenged Donna Brandenburg, Michael Markey, and Mike Brown from the August Primary ballot. Following the Board of Canvassers vote that deadlocked on the matter, all five candidates are currently not certified to appear on the ballot in August.
Brown, seemingly the only candidate with any integrity, owned the fact that the onus to submit valid signatures was on him and said he “cannot and will not be associated with” any fraudulent activity then immediately dropped out of the race.
The others? Not even close. Brandenburg opened yesterday’s Board of Canvassers proceedings by repeatedly characterizing the events that led to her testimony a “goat rodeo.” Markey compared himself to José Canseco, asking the Board, “Does anyone assert that every home run that Jose Canseco hit was due to steroids?” (I mean, yeah?) Craig relied on the defense of yet another out-of-state lawyer that admitted he hadn’t been keeping up with the news surrounding the scandal. Johnson’s gaggle of lawyers made the same argument as everyone else: yeah there was fraud but ignore the law and duty to conduct fair elections. Let us on the ballot anyway because we wanna 🙁 [Tiny violin not pictured.]
Even Republicans Are Over the Blame Game
So with half the field gone (pending some assuredly bitter court battles), what’s left? “Not much,” according to conservative columnist Nolan Finely, who also wrote this week that the remaining “list of GOP hopefuls [are] distinguished by its mediocrity.”
No shelter in Republican strategist John Sellek’s analysis either, especially for James Craig: “For a year, Craig was unbeatable by anyone in the GOP. 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.”
They weren’t the only ones. Several other Michigan Republicans voiced their displeasure with the sorry state of candidates angling for statewide leadership while attempting to pawn blame off on anyone within a 50-mile radius of Lansing.
The Show Goes On
Two of them in fact. Tomorrow, those that survived the culling will be in Traverse City for the second debate of primary. Then it’s off to Mackinac Island where Garrett Soldano, Kevin Rinke, and even Ryan Kelley were previously extended invites, having met the eligibility requirements the old fashioned way: actually having support besting the percentages of low-fat milk.
Post-ballot shakeup, Tudor Dixon and Ralph Rebandt were extended pity invites, considering the fact that only Soldano and Rinke were going to be on stage. Kelley is waging an outlandish boycott, citing COVID-19 mitigation practices that never applied to him or anyone else on stage. “Any candidate who backs out is just scared to debate. That simple,” said Soldano.
We agree. Have a great Memorial weekend from all of us at MDP.