James Craig weighing write-in campaign if he's kept off the ballot

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Former Detroit police Chief James Craig says he's considering launching a write-in campaign for the Republican nomination for governor if he's kept off the primary ballot.

Craig, one of five GOP candidates for governor whose names were knocked off the ballot because of an unprecedented wave of alleged petition forgeries, plans to challenge the decision of the Board of State Canvassers in court.

If that's unsuccessful, Craig said, a write-in effort, which would be a difficult task, is possible.

"Because I respect the people who have supported me, I will fight until the end," Craig said, contending that he is the GOP candidate who can defeat Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Former City of Detroit Police Chief, James Craig, greets Jackson area Republicans, after giving a speech, Tuesday evening, July 6, 2021, at the historic, Under The Oaks Memorial Park in downtown Jackson.

The retired chief made the comments in an interview, a day after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked, 2-2, on whether he and four other Republican candidates for governor had turned in the required 15,000 valid petition signatures to make the Aug. 2 primary ballot.

The tie votes mean the five Republicans, including businessman Perry Johnson of Bloomfield Hills, are currently off the ballot. But multiple legal challenges are expected to play out in the courts in the coming days. Craig said his appeal is in the works, and he argued that voters should be able to decide on his candidacy.

In the interview, Craig said he wasn't interested in being the running mate of any Republican who remained on the ballot.

"I want to be so clear," Craig said. "I will not be the No. 2 for any of the candidates that are running."

On Monday, the Michigan Bureau of Elections reported 11,113 of the 21,305 signatures that Craig's campaign submitted to get on the ballot were invalid, leaving him 4,808 signatures short of the threshold.

Craig's campaign and others have taken issue with how the bureau reached its conclusions. They've argued the bureau needed to examine each signature individually to reject them instead of invalidating pages from allegedly fraudulent circulators.

Mark Brewer, an elections lawyer and former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, and a political action committee that supports another Republican candidate, Tudor Dixon, both challenged Craig's signatures. Brewer has said he's never seen such evidence of forgery and fraud in a petition drive in the nearly 40 years he's been practicing law.