Bergman could face Dem challenger who waged write-in campaign

Matt Morgan is running for U.S. Congress in Michigan's 1st District

Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman might have a challenger on the fall general election ballot after all. 

Democrat Matt Morgan launched a write-in effort after he was disqualified from the primary ballot, and his campaign says last week at least 32,000 people wrote in Morgan's name as the Democratic candidate for U.S. House. 

The campaign says it has raw data from 30 of 32 counties in the 1st District, which includes the Upper Peninsula and the northern part of the lower, though those counties are still certifying their unofficial results. 

"We feel very confident that we will be right around 31,000 to 32,000 verified write-in votes," Morgan said in a Facebook post this week, thanking voters for their support. 

"The bottom line is we got about eight times the total number of write-ins we actually need to qualify. That number is a little over 3,500, so thanks to your support, thanks to you getting out ... we got the votes that we needed, and we'll be on the ballot in November." 

The minimum number of write-in votes needed for a candidate to qualify is determined by a state formula that works out to roughly 3,570 votes total for Morgan, according to his campaign's calculations based on data collected from the counties. 

Kate Bassett, interim campaign manager for Morgan, said the Democrat crossed that threshold when Marquette County certified 4,388 write-in votes for Morgan last week.

Each of the 32 county canvassing boards has to review the write-in votes before they are counted for Morgan. That total would be certified by the Board of State Canvassers when it meets later this month, said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the state Bureau of Elections.

"We are 100 percent certain we will be on the ballot in November," Bassett said.

In June, Morgan lost a court appeal to reverse his ballot disqualification over technical issues with his nominating petitions. 

At issue was the use of the campaign's post office box in the heading of the nominating petitions, rather than a street address or rural route, as required by state election law. 

Morgan of Traverse City and Bergman of Watersmeet are both retired Marine officers. 

In 2016, Bergman defeated Democrat Lon Johnson by nearly 15 percentage points to succeed Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, who retired. The seat was previously represented by a Democrat for 18 years — Rep. Bart Stupak of Menominee.

Tlaib campaigns for Omar 

The Detroit Democrat expected to become the first Muslim woman in Congress after winning the 13th District primary last week went to Minnesota over the weekend to help a candidate aiming to be the second. 

Former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib and her team campaigned for Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota state lawmaker, who on Tuesday won her primary with 48 percent of the vote in a largely Democratic district that includes most of Minneapolis. 

Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota could be the first female Muslims to serve in Congress.

Omar and Tlaib, who is running unopposed in the fall general election, would be the first two female Muslims in Congress if Omar is successful in the general election. Omar would also be the first Somali-American member of the U.S. House.

If elected, Omar would succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison — the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Ellison, a Detroit native, on Tuesday won the Democratic primary for attorney general in Minnesota amid allegations of domestic abuse from a former girlfriend that he's denied.  

Tlaib tweeted her congratulations to Omar on Tuesday: "I can't wait to walk onto the floor of United States Congress hand in hand with you. So incredibly proud of you."

Issue signatures reviewed

State elections officials are extending the deadline for challenges to a voters’ rights ballot proposal after problems were identified in a sample batch of signatures.

The initial batch of 500 signatures contained an “insufficient number of valid signatures” for staff to recommend that the Board of State Canvassers certify or deny the petition, according to a statement from the state Bureau of Elections.

People wishing to challenge a second batch of 3,300 signatures must do so by Aug. 28.

The proposed constitutional amendment would join at least three other initiatives on the November ballot and would allow no-reason absentee voting by mail, registration to vote up to and on Election Day, and guarantee continued straight-party voting.

The group submitted more than 430,000 signatures to the state on July 9.

Promote the Vote — the committee pushing the initiative — is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and received about $1.25 million in contributions from the group in the second quarter of 2018.

Other ballot measures that will be put to voters in November include one that would legalize recreational marijuana, one that would establish an independent redistricting commission, and another that would mandate paid sick leave.