Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers rejected five Republican candidates for state governor, including high-profile candidates former Detroit police chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson, citing signature fraud.

The panel, which is comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, was split along party lines at the Elections Bureau’s recommendation to disqualify the candidates. A majority was needed to keep a candidate on the ballot.

Michigan election officials completed a review of signatures on nominating petitions for the candidates, reporting that 68,000 invalid signatures from 36 petition circulators left candidates with less than the 15,000 signatures needed to qualify. The high number of signatures applied to more candidates outside of the gubernatorial race.

The candidates can file a lawsuit to get their names back on the ballot before the August primary to unseat sitting Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer because the report found that the candidates did not knowingly participate in the fraudulent signatures.

The board “does not have reason to believe that any specific candidates or campaigns were aware of the activities of fraudulent-petition circulators,” the report said.

Craig and Johnson announced their intentions to fight the decision in court.

“We are confident that when the law is justly applied, our campaign will be on the ballot this August,” read Craig’s statement.

“We strongly believe they are refusing to count thousands of signatures from legitimate voters who signed the petitions and look forward to winning this fight before the Board, and if necessary, in the courts,” Johnson retweeted.

 

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