Junge, Barrett should make ballot after challenges, Michigan Elections Bureau recommends

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

The Michigan Bureau of Elections has recommended that Republican congressional candidates Paul Junge and state Sen. Tom Barrett should make the ballot, rejecting challenges filed against their nominating petitions.

In reports dated Monday, the bureau said both U.S. House candidates running in competitive swing districts had submitted enough valid signatures to meet the threshold of 1,000 signatures required for congressional candidates.

Junge is aiming to take on U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, in the new 8th District this fall, and Barrett is targeting Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, in the new 7th District. 

The bureau also recommended for the ballot former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson of Detroit, who is running for the Democratic nomination in the new 12th District against Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, determining that she had enough valid signatures. 

But the bureau concluded that two GOP candidates, Jake Hagg in the 7th and Gabriella Manolache in the 3rd District, are not eligible for the ballot because they had not submitted enough valid signatures. 

The bureau found that 476 signatures filed by Hagg were invalid, largely due to jurisdiction errors, and 948 were valid. A review by elections bureau staff found that Manolache’s petition sheets had 276 invalid signatures and 966 facially valid signatures, dropping her below the required 1,000 signatures. 

The Elections Bureau also found Democrat Joseph Alfonso who filed in the new 4th District aiming to challenge U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Holland, submitted too few valid signatures. Alfonso submitted 959 valid signatures and 68 invalid ones, according to the report.

The Board of State Canvassers, which is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, is expected to consider the bureau's recommendations when it meets Thursday. 

A signature gatherer and member of the Genesee County Republican Party Executive Committee had filed the challenge against Junge in late April, alleging he did not collect enough valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot and that a contractor for his campaign tried to buy signatures from a petition circulator for a GOP opponent.

Junge told The Detroit News at the time that the challenge was "frivolous" and the allegations "totally false."

Junge is facing off in the GOP primary in Michigan's new 8th District against Matthew Seely of Davison and businesswoman Candice Miller, who is not related to the former U.S. Rep. Candice Miller. The winner will face Kildee in November.

Slotkin's campaign had filed the challenge against Barrett last month, arguing that he improperly listed two separate municipalities for his address in the headers of circulated petitions, both Charlotte and Carmel Township. Her campaign said that the defect should render all of his submitted petition sheets invalid.

The Bureau of Elections recommended that the canvassers reject Slotkin's challenge because the jurisdiction entries are both correct, and the addition of Barrett's ZIP code also does not render the petition invalid.

"The addition of both does not render the petition heading invalid where both are correct," the report states. "Additionally, while voters signing the petition are only required to list one jurisdiction, there is no such requirement for candidates."

The Michigan Secretary of State last week rejected a challenge to retired Macomb County Circuit Judge Carl Marlinga, who is running for U.S. House in Michigan's new 10th District.

A GOP had challenge argued he was ineligible because the state constitution bars judges from running for non-judicial office for a year after leaving the bench; the Secretary of State's office determined that provision doesn't apply to federal candidates.


Staff writers Craig Mauger and Riley Beggin contributed.