By ED WHITE
DETROIT (AP) — Two candidates for Michigan governor, including a business consultant willing to spend personal millions, lost their final appeals Friday and will remain off the ballot in the Republican primary.
The state Supreme Court was the last stop for Perry Johnson and Michael Markey, who were doomed by forged signatures on their petitions, apparently created by paid circulators without the candidates’ knowledge.
After state officials scratched those signatures, Johnson and Markey didn’t have enough valid ones to reach the threshold of 15,000.
Detroit’s former police chief, James Craig, is in the same category. But the Supreme Court told him to take his appeal first to the Michigan Court of Appeals, though he, too, will likely remain off the Aug. 2 ballot in the end.
The state elections bureau described widespread evidence of fraudulent signatures, names of dead voters and wrong addresses in a May 23 report.
The candidates said they were victims of dishonest petition circulators and deserved to be on the ballot. They complained that the state declared thousands of suspicious signatures invalid although only a portion were actually compared to signatures in the voter registry.
The Board of State Canvassers last week tied, 2-2, on whether to put five candidates on the ballot. A tie meant they were left off, and lawsuits followed.
Johnson, who referred to himself as a business “quality guru,” began introducing himself to voters with Super Bowl ads and had pledged to spend some of his personal fortune.
There still will be five other candidates in the Republican primary: Tudor Dixon, Kevin Rinke, Garrett Soldano, Ralph Rebandt and Ryan Kelley.
Four of those five appeared at a debate Thursday on Mackinac Island. Dixon earlier in the day picked up an endorsement from Right to Life of Michigan, an anti-abortion group influential in Republican politics.
The winner will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the fall.
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