If you believe America is better off when the Democrats win elections, then you have to see it as good news that five Republican candidates for Governor of Michigan – including two potential frontrunners – have just been potentially tossed from the ballot. We’ll see what happens in court, and who does or doesn’t get reinstated. But this could certainly leave the Republicans stuck with an obscure or unwanted nominee for Governor, who would then presumably have a harder time in the general election.
While this is good news, it’s also a real head scratcher, which makes you wonder just how deeply this runs. These five candidates are facing disqualification by the Michigan Bureau of Elections because they allegedly forged numerous signatures in order to qualify for the ballot.
These kinds of signature requirements typically only exist to force obscure candidates to prove they’re serious about wanting to be on the ballot. Otherwise, every average citizen could submit their name for the ballot just for fun, and the ballot would end up having tens of thousands of candidates, making it difficult for voters to even find the candidates who are legitimately running.
But realistically, these signatures don’t mean much for a high profile candidate in a high level election; certainly these two Republican frontrunners could have legitimately obtained the required number of signatures with minimal effort. This is far from the first allegation of a candidate submitting forged signatures; all it takes is a rogue staffer who’s too lazy to seek out actual signatures, and a lack of oversight. But five Republican candidates getting busted for signature forging in the same primary race?
At first I thought that perhaps the bureau was just finally drawing the line on this kind of thing, and flagging every candidate who submitted even a handful of fraudulent signatures. But that’s not the case. One of the Republican frontrunners submitted about 10,000 signatures that were nearly all allegedly fraudulent. The other Republican frontrunner’s signatures were allegedly about 50% fraudulent. And three other Republican candidates did the same egregious thing.
A good rule of thumb these days is that Republican candidates are nearly always cheating, and it’s always just a matter of when and whether they get caught. But this is brazen even for them. So what happened here? Did all five of these candidates rely on the same rogue firm to manufacture the signatures? Is this something Republicans do in every election these days, and this is just the first time anyone caught it?
This story will be worth watching for a few reasons. First, obviously, there is the question of which Republicans will or won’t end up on the ballot. If the frontrunners are indeed kept off the ballot, incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s odds of reelection would presumably go up, given that the new Republican “frontrunner” would be a candidate who’s currently polling at about 2% in the Republican primary.
But there’s also the question of just how systemic this kind of signature fraud is within Republican circles, and why any major Republican candidates would take the risk of cutting that corner, given that gathering legitimate signatures is easily done, and that risking getting disqualified over it is just stupid.
We’re also left to wonder how many other Republican candidates, in Michigan or elsewhere, might be about to get busted for the same thing. In light of the Michigan Bureau of Elections announcement, other state bureaus are surely going to look more closely at the signatures that have been submitted to them. And Democratic candidates around the country now potentially have the opportunity to report their Republican opponents and get them disqualified for cheating. We’ll see if this scandal is specific to Michigan or has nationwide ramifications.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report