Candidate filing day: Johnson says he'll spend 'whatever it takes' in GOP primary

Lansing — Businessman Perry Johnson told reporters Tuesday he'll spend "whatever it takes" to win the GOP primary for governor in August after submitting about 23,000 petition signatures.

Johnson of Bloomfield Hills became the 10th Republican candidate for governor to turn in signatures about three hours before the 4 p.m. deadline. The contenders need 15,000 valid signatures to make the ballot.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Perry Johnson and his wife, Diane, walk toward the Michigan Department of State office in downtown Lansing to submit petition signatures in hopes of making the August primary ballot.

Johnson's businesses include Perry Johnson Registrars, Inc., which operates in the certification and registration industry, according to its website. Since launching his campaign in January, he's touted himself as a "quality guru."

His campaign has already spent millions of dollars on TV advertisements. He and fellow businessman Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township have personal wealth that allows them to personally finance their campaigns and potentially stick out in a crowded field.

Self-funding candidates have had a mixed track record in Michigan gubernatorial races. In 2010, a Republican businessman named Rick Snyder spent about $6 million of his own money to become the state's governor. In 2018, however, Democrat Shri Thanedar gave his campaign more than $10 million but lost in the primary.

Republican Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores preceded Johnson Tuesday morning as her campaign turned in 29,735 signatures. 

On Monday, former Detroit police Chief James Craig submitted his signatures, 21,735, and he described himself as "the candidate to beat" in the primary race.

Republican Tudor Dixon talks to reporters after submitting her petition signatures to run for governor on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

"I think that he's got some stiff competition," Dixon said in response to Craig's comments.

Dixon is a businesswoman and conservative commentator who has won the endorsements of state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of Clarklake and U.S. Reps. Lisa McClain of Bruce Township and Bill Huizenga of Holland.

Former President Donald Trump has made positive comments about her but hasn't yet endorsed in the governor's race.

The winner of the primary will take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as she seeks a second term in November. Her campaign submitted 30,000 signatures in March.

Bizon won't seek reelection

Michigan Sen. John Bizon, a Republican from Battle Creek, revealed Tuesday he won't seek a second term after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge resulting from allegations he inappropriately touched a health care worker.

Sen. John Bizon, R-Battle Creek

Gongwer News Service first reported Bizon's decision. He told the Lansing-based publication he planned to "spend more time with my family and grandchildren."

Shirkey confirmed after Senate session Tuesday that Bizon, a doctor and former member of the state House, had shared his choice with fellow Senate Republicans. Shirkey declined to comment further.

In March, Bizon was sentenced to a year of probation for inappropriately touching a nurse practitioner while seeking treatment for COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. The lawmaker has previously labeled the situation "regrettable."

Two Republicans have filed to run for Bizon's Battle Creek-based Senate seat, including House Appropriations Chairman Thomas Albert of Lowell. The other is Ryan Mancinelli of Alto.

Giuliani witness files for Congress

Among the candidates for U.S. House who filed petition signatures Monday was a witness brought forward by Rudy Giuliani in 2020 to bolster former President Donald Trump's unproven claims of election fraud. 

Republican Hima Kolanagireddy, who served as a poll challenger at TCF Center in Detroit, testified in December 2020 before the Michigan House Oversight Committee and made headlines for arguing that stricter photo ID was needed for voting, in part because "all Chinese look alike." 

"A lot of people think all Indians look alike," said Kolanagireddy, who is Indian American. "I think all Chinese look alike. So, how would you tell?"

Kolanagireddy of Northville linked to a YouTube video of her committee testimony from her campaign Twitter account last month.

"People ask me if I always wanted to run for office. My answer is 'No freaking way." Before Nov 3rd of 2020, I had a normal life like most people," she tweeted. "What I witnessed at TCF - fraud, lies, and bullying- planted a seed within me to be the change I wish to see."

Kolanagireddy filed to run in the new Ann Arbor-based 6th District where U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, is seeking reelection to a fifth term.

Republican Whittney Williams of Canton Township also filed petition signatures in the 6th. Williams unsuccessfully ran for the GOP nomination in the old 11th District in 2020, losing to Eric Esshaki.

Kildee foes line up

Three Republicans this month filed petition signatures hoping to take on U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, in the competitive new 8th that is expected to be a swing district in the midterm elections this fall. 

They are the self-funding Paul Junge of Brighton, Matthew Seely of Davison and Candice Miller of Burton — but not the former U.S. Rep. Candice Miller who served in Congress from 2003-16 and is now Macomb County Public Works commissioner.

"There is a woman named Candice Miller who apparently is running for Congress in the Flint area and who is NOT the Macomb County Public Works Commissioner," the former congresswoman tweeted over the weekend.

"We are very concerned that people may be confused. There is absolutely no relation."

Crowded field in 13th

At least nine Democratic candidates filed petition signatures in pursuit of the open seat in Michigan's new 13th District, which covers the bulk of Detroit, the Grosse Pointes and downriver communities. 

They include John Conyers III, the son of the late congressman who represented the district for decades. Also running are state Sen. Adam Hollier; state Rep. Shri Thanedar; former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo; attorney and educator Michael Griffie; and attorney Portia Roberson, all from Detroit.

The 13th District is open because U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, is retiring and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, opted to run next door in the new 12th District that includes Dearborn, Southfield and part of Detroit. 

Tlaib is among eight members of the Michigan delegation facing challengers in the Aug. 2 primary. Hers include Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett, both Democrats. Former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson of Detroit also said she filed to run in the race.

3rd District developments

A third Republican has filed petition signatures to run in the new 3rd District, where U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids Township, is seeking a second term. 

In addition to Trump-backed John Gibbs, attorney Gabi Manolache filed petition signatures last week. Manolache's website promotes "America First" policies touted by Trump. 

Democrat Hillary Scholten on Monday filed petition signatures to run again in the 3rd. Scholten lost to Meijer in the old 3rd District 47% to 53% when the seat was open in 2020. The new 3rd covers the Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Muskegon areas. 

A Republican challenger, attorney Michelle R.E. Donovan of New Baltimore, filed petition signatures to run against freshman U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Bruce Township, who is seeking a second term in the new 9th District. Democrat Brian Jaye of Rochester also filed to run in the 9th. 

Democrat Bob Lorinser filed to run in the 1st District against U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, who is seeking another term representing northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. 

Lorsinser is a physician who serves as medical director for the Marquette County Health Department and previously worked for the U.S. Foreign Service as a regional medical officer, according to his CV. 

Republican Tom Norton of Courtland Township filed to challenge GOP U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, in the new 2nd District. Norton previously said he would challenge Meijer after Meijer supported Trump's second impeachment. 

After Tuesday's deadline, other campaigns have seven days to challenge a candidate's petition signatures, according to the Michigan Department of State. People who sign the nominating petitions must be registered voters and provide all of the required information. Residents aren't supposed to sign multiple candidates' petitions.

The Board of State Canvassers must complete its canvass of the petitions by May 31.