Five Republican candidates for Governor of Michigan will remain off ballot

Welcome to the Friday, May 27, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Five gubernatorial candidates in Michigan will remain off the ballot
  2. Newcomers will represent 31% of Iowa’s state legislative districts
  3. #FridayTrivia: Which of the 100 largest cities currently has a mayoral vacancy?

Five gubernatorial candidates in Michigan will remain off the ballot

Five Republican gubernatorial candidates in Michigan will remain off the ballot following a May 26 meeting of the Board of State Canvassers. 

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and business owner Perry Johnson, whom The Detroit News described as top candidates for the Republican nomination, were among those five, alongside Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown, and Michael Markey, Jr. Brown withdrew his candidacy on May 24.

The candidates failed to qualify for the ballot following a May 23 report from the state Bureau of Elections that found 36 petition circulators had forged an estimated 68,000 signatures across multiple campaigns’ sets of nominating petitions, including those of the five affected gubernatorial candidates.

After excluding signatures gathered by these particular circulators, the bureau determined the candidates had submitted an insufficient number of valid signatures and would not appear on the ballot.

At issue during the May 26 canvassing board meeting was whether the board would affirm the bureau’s report or, instead, vote to place the affected candidates on the ballot.

The board, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans nominated by state parties and appointed by the governor, deadlocked in a series of 2-2 votes regarding the gubernatorial candidates. At least three votes were needed to add an affected candidate’s name to the ballot. Democratic members voted for approving the bureau’s report and Republican members voted against it.

Since the board could not reach a majority vote regarding the gubernatorial candidates, the candidates will remain off the ballot. 

Candidates can file lawsuits challenging this decision. So far, Craig, Johnson—through his attorney—and Markey have indicated they would take the issue to court. The state aims to finalize its official candidate list by June 3 ahead of the June 18 legal deadline to mail finalized absentee ballots to military and overseas voters.

Michigan law requires Democratic and Republican candidates for governor to submit at least 15,000, but no more than 30,000, valid signatures in order to make the ballot. Candidates must collect at least 100 valid signatures in each of at least half of the state’s congressional districts. The filing deadline was April 19.

Of the states holding gubernatorial elections this year, only Florida requires Democratic and Republican candidates to submit more signatures than Michigan. In Florida, major party candidates must submit at least 144,419 valid signatures to make the ballot. Candidates can also opt to pay an $8,051 filing fee instead of submitting a petition. Michigan law does not allow for a filing-fee option. Click here to learn more about state-specific ballot access requirements.

Michigan currently has a divided government with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both chambers of the legislature.

Five candidates remain on the ballot in the Republican primary: Tudor Dixon, Ryan Kelley, Ralph Rebandt, Kevin Rinke, and Garrett Soldano. Incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is the only candidate seeking the Democratic nomination.

The Cook Political Report currently rates the general election as a Toss-Up with two other forecasters rating the race as Lean or Tilt Democratic. Whitmer was first elected in 2018, receiving 53% of the vote. In 2020, Joe Biden (D) received 51% of the vote in Michigan to Donald Trump’s (R) 48% in that year’s presidential election.

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Newcomers will represent 31% of Iowa’s state legislative districts next year

With the May 24 primaries behind us, we are looking ahead to the next round of statewide primaries, scheduled for June 7. Seven states will be holding primaries, including Iowa, which we are taking a closer look at today.

Forty-six state legislative districts up for election this year in Iowa are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. That equals 33% of the 134 districts up for election and 31% of all 150 districts in the Iowa General Assembly.

Since no incumbents are running, newcomers to the assembly are guaranteed to win open districts. This is the most guaranteed newcomers to the Iowa General Assembly since 2014.

Iowa does not have term limits, meaning 41 of these districts are open because incumbents either retired or chose to run for some other office. Five other districts are open due to redistricting moving incumbents into districts with other incumbents. This can lead to incumbent versus incumbent contests if multiple incumbents choose to run in the same district.

There are four incumbent versus incumbent contests in Iowa this year. In these races, since only one candidate can win, one incumbent is guaranteed to lose:

While the number of open seats dictates the number of guaranteed newcomers, new members can also assume office by defeating incumbents—in either primaries or the general election—or following incumbent resignations or withdrawals during the election cycle.

The total number of contested primaries—including those featuring incumbents and those in open districts—also reached its highest point since 2014.

This year, there are 44 contested primaries: 13 Democratic primaries and 31 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is up from 12 in 2020, an 8% increase. For Republicans, the number increased 94% from 13 in 2020 to 31 in 2022.

Overall, 254 major party candidates filed: 112 Democrats and 142 Republicans. That equals 1.9 candidates per district, the same as 2020, and down from 2.0 in 2018.

Iowa has been a Republican trifecta since the party won control of the state Senate in 2016. Republicans currently hold a 32-18 majority in the Senate and a 60-40 majority in the House.

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#FridayTrivia: Which of the 100 largest cities currently has a mayoral vacancy?

In the Wednesday Brew, we told you about developments in one of the country’s 100 largest cities by population. On May 24, the mayor of this city resigned following the publication of information from an investigation regarding the sale of a stadium. This created a vacancy, currently the only mayoral vacancy across those 100 largest cities.

Which of the 100 largest cities currently has a mayoral vacancy?

  1. Jacksonville, Fla.
  2. Fort Wayne, Ind.
  3. Denver, Colo. 
  4. Anaheim, Calif.