LANSING, Mich. — So far, all five Republican gubernatorial candidates who didn't have enough valid signatures to get onto the primary ballot have been rejected by higher courts. Over the weekend, former Detroit police chief James Craig said his campaign isn’t over just yet. But one of his only options would be to run as a write-in candidate, and no one has ever won a governor’s race that way in Michigan’s history.
“It’s not over, I’m not going to let this go because Michigan deserves better," Craig said on Sunday to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.
Craig was disqualified from being on the August primary ballot because his campaign fell short of the required number of petition signatures. The Michigan Bureau of Elections discovered rampant fraud in the signatures gathered for the Republican candidates for governor. They estimated that 68,000 signatures across 10 sets of nominating petitions were invalid.
The Board of State Canvassers’ upheld the Bureau of Elections recommendations and, in the weeks since, Craig and other candidates have vowed to keep campaigning – a path that’s unlikely to lead to victory.
Kyle Melinn, the editor and co-founder of the Michigan Information and Research Service, said that to have a successful write-in campaign the Craig team would need a massive, grassroots effort, which he simply doesn’t have.
“If he was willing to put forth the work that's entailed to do to do any type of write-in campaign, let alone a successful write-in campaign, he would have had the initiative to actually get the signatures in the first place," he said.
There's also very little danger of Craig even pulling enough write-in votes to prevent a candidate that's actually on the ballot from winning, Melinn said. In other words, it's unlikely for Craig to split the vote.
"This gubernatorial field is so wide open as it relates to the general public that he wouldn't be cutting into anybody's support right now," he said. "He would just be having to basically bring back people who said they were going to support him in the first place."
Despite losing an early front-runner, the Michigan Republican Party tells FOX 47 News they’re still feeling good about their odds in the governor's race.
“We're feeling really good about the candidates that we have that made the ballot, and we're forging ahead," said Gus Portela, a spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party.
And as for Craig’s bid to keep fighting to be on the ballot, Portela said it's a long path to victory.
“Look, you know, a write-in candidate has a long shot really bid to win. We haven't seen a write-in candidate in Michigan be successful," Portela said. "But certainly, we're going to continue promoting our candidates, continue to expose Gretchen Whitmer and the Democrats."
In other news, disqualified candidate Perry Johnson is asking a federal court to stop the state from printing ballots without his name on the candidate list. We’ll keep following this story as it develops.