The Michigan Bureau of Elections announced on November 29 that it had rejected a recall effort targeting state Rep. Larry Inman (R) due to a typo. In the original petition language approved in July 2019, the group had described one of Inman’s charges as “Attempted extortion under color of official right.” The word “right” was omitted from the signed petitions submitted in November 2019.
In a letter to the recall organizers, Director of Elections Sally Williams wrote, “While the omission of one word may seem inconsequential and the rejection of a recall petition on such grounds as excessively technical and harsh, the recall statute does not authorize the bureau to excuse differences between the reasons for recall approved by the board and those printed on the recall petitions.”
Recall organizer Kaitlin Flynn said that supporters are “in shock and deeply disappointed” and that the recall group was evaluating all of its options. Recall supporters had submitted 13,991 signatures on November 22, which was more than the 12,201 signatures needed to force a recall election.
According to the petition language, recall supporters tried to recall Inman due to his indictment on three felony counts and missing more than 80 votes during the 2019 legislative session. Federal prosecutors charged Inman with extortion, lying to the FBI, and lying to investigators about texts soliciting contributions. His trial is expected to begin on December 3. In August 2019, the state House passed a resolution by a 98-8 vote urging him to resign.
In September 2019, Inman responded to the recall petition by saying, “I can’t really measure the public and their wishes, but people right now that I [run] into in Traverse City, in the grocery store and gas stations, they all shake my hand and give me words of encouragement.” Inman was elected to District 104 in the state House in 2014. He was re-elected in 2018 with 50.4% of the vote. His seat is on the ballot in 2020 for a two-year term.
Since 2011, 85 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 64 did not go to a vote, and three are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected to the governor’s office in 2018.