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Johnson becomes 1st GOP gov. candidate to sue to get on primary ballot

Perry Johnson, wearing a suit, speaking animatedly in front of a crowd. Behind him is a large sign that reads: Perry John, Quality Guru.
Perry Johnson for Governor
Johnson is among five GOP gubernatorial candidates disqualified from the August primary ballot.

Perry Johnson is the first Republican hopeful for Michigan governor to call on a court to put him on the August statewide primary ballot.

The businessman and self-described “quality guru” filed Friday with the Michigan Court of Appeals to demand that state election officials certify his name for the primary ballot. That's despite questions on whether his campaign gathered enough signatures of registered voters.

Johnson is one of five candidates kept off the ballot due at least in part to what appears to be a massive fraud scheme where paid circulators forged thousands of signatures.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections determined 13,800 signatures were “facially valid” though roughly 15,000 were required to qualify for the primary.

Johnson’s campaign acknowledged there was fraud but would not concede that he failed to gather enough names.

“The thousands of voters who signed petitions in support of his nomination as a candidate for the office of Governor of Michigan have a First Amendment right to have their voices heard and signatures counted,” said the complaint filed by the campaign.

Johnson demanded a more-thorough review of the signatures or that his name simply placed on the August primary ballot. The filing also says the state owed the Johnson campaign earlier notice that it found problems that imperiled his candidacy.

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Michael Markey, a Grand Haven financial advisor, have also said they’ll go to court to get on the primary ballot, but they're on a tight deadline.

The state elections bureau says it needs to have the candidate list finalized by next Friday, so ballots can be proofed and printed. Five Republicans have been certified to appear on the primary ballot.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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