State elections board disqualifies 14 candidates for Congress and judiciary

By: - May 27, 2022 9:43 am

Sen Tom Barrett (left) and former Rep. Shanelle Jackson (right) were both deemed qualified for the ballot on Thursday | Andrew Roth and campaign photos

Updated, 4:26 p.m., 6/3/22

The Board of State Canvassers (BSC), which ultimately did not certify petitions for five GOP gubernatorial candidates due to deadlocked votes over petition signature fraud, also voted Thursday on seven congressional candidates and 19 judicial positions.

Some of the down-ballot candidates’ petitions were also touched by the fraudulent petition scandal. Most faced relatively minor errors, like faulty dates or jurisdictions that disqualified signatures.

Of the 26 congressional and judicial candidates considered by the bipartisan board on Thursday, 14 were disqualified, while 12 cleared the green light to be on the Aug. 2 primary ballot.

This comes after the state Bureau of Elections (BOE) released a report Monday evening identifying 36 petition circulators who submitted fraudulent petition sheets. The BOE found an estimated total of 68,000 invalid signatures across 10 petition drives, including those for governor, circuit judge and district judge.

Before voting on the latter two positions, the four-member BSC deadlocked on a party-line 2-2 vote on each gubernatorial vote, meaning that financial adviser Michael Markey, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, businesswoman Donna Brandenburg, self-described “quality guru” Perry Johnson and Michigan State Police Capt. Michael Brown are all rendered ineligible for the Aug. 2 primary ballot.

Brown dropped out prior to the meeting, while some other candidates have promised legal action.

GOP gubernatorial candidates the Bureau of Elections recommended to remove from the ballot (clockwise): James Craig, Michael Brown, Donna Brandenburg, Perry Johnson and Michael Markey

As of now, there are five GOP candidates currently on the ballot: Businessman Kevin Rinke, right-wing media personality Tudor Dixon, chiropractor Garrett Soldano, far-right activist Ryan Kelley and the Rev. Ralph Rebandt. The winner will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Nov. 8.

The seven nominating petitions for Congress taken up by the BSC Thursday included those on behalf of state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), Paul Junge, Gabriella Manolache, Joseph Alfonso, Elizabeth Ferszt, Jake Hagg and Shanelle Jackson.

The BOE had recommended that the BSC disqualify Ferszt, Manolache, Hagg and Alfonso, which the four-member panel did on Thursday.

Barrett and Hagg had both filed for the newly drawn 7th Congressional District, which could be one of the most competitive in the country.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin talks to reporters after her town hall at Oakland University | Laina G. Stebbins

Barrett succeeded in qualifying for the ballot and overcame a challenge to his signatures from U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), who is also running in the 7th.

Ferszt, a Republican, will be ineligible to run in the 5th Congressional District in South-Central Michigan. U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) and Republican Sherry O’Donnell are on the ballot, as is Democrat Bart Goldberg.

Manolache is disqualified to run as a Republican for the 3rd Congressional district in West Michigan, where incumbent U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) is running again. Republican John Gibbs is the only remaining primary challenger to Meijer, while Democrat Hillary Scholten is running against Meijer for the second time.

Alfonso, a Democrat, has signaled that he filed as a write-in candidate for the 4th Congressional District in Southwest Michigan after being disqualified by the board. If he receives enough write-in votes in the August primary, he will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) in November.*

The BSC also approved the congressional petitions for Republican Paul Junge and former Rep. Shanelle Jackson (D-Detroit), who are running for Michigan’s 8th and 12th districts, respectively. Junge previously lost a bid for Congress to Slotkin.

Junge will now be facing off against Candice Miller and Matthew Seely for the 8th district GOP nomination. The winner will challenge U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) in the district that includes Genesee and Saginaw counties, parts of Bay County, the city of Midland and parts of Midland County.

Jackson, Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) are running in the 12th District Democratic primary. Steven Elliott, James Hooper and Hassan Nehme are running in the Republican primary.

The overwhelmingly Democratic district is composed of Detroit and a portion of Oakland County, in addition to Western Wayne County communities including Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Livonia, Westland, Garden City and Redford Township.

Also up for the BSC’s consideration Thursday were 19 candidates for circuit court and district court judgeships.

5 Michigan GOP gov. candidates kicked off ballot amid signature fraud scandal

The panel struck down the petitions of three candidates for the 3rd Circuit Court judge: Shakira Hawkins, Chastity Youngblood and Angelique Camfield. It approved five: Charise Anderson, Anne Marie McCarthy, Regina Triplett, Amanda Shelton and Chrisopher Wickman.

For district judge positions, the BSC disqualified seven candidates: Christine Beecher, Michael Tinney, Mark Koroi, George Lyons, former state Rep. Philip Cavanagh, John Malone and Tricia Dare.

Cavanagh, Malone and Dare all had a number of signatures that were identified as having been submitted by petition circulators who were found to have submitted fraudulent signatures.

Four judicial candidates were given approval to be on the ballot: Craig Pappin for the 12th District Court, Stuart Collis for the 14A District Court, Brenda Richard for the 45th District Court Brian Jackson for the 54A District Court.

The filing deadline for the signatures was April 19. Ballots are set to be sent out in mid- and late June.


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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.