Nikki Snyder, 7 other Michigan congressional candidates deemed to have invalid petitions

Bergman to run unopposed for GOP nomination in 1st District

Michigan Board of State Canvassers Chair Mary Ellen Gurewitz, right, a Democrat and Canvasser Richard Houskamp, a Republican. (Kyle Davidson/Michigan Advance photo)

State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder is among eight congressional candidates who do not have enough valid petition signatures to appear on the August primary ballot.

That was the determination of a Michigan Bureau of Elections staff report released Friday evening in which candidates’ nominating petitions were examined, with Snyder the lone candidate from the 8th District set to be disqualified. The swing seat is open as U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) announced in November he would not seek reelection.

The report on Snyder stated that the Republican candidate submitted 1,079 signatures toward the 1,000 required for inclusion on the congressional ballot. Of those, an initial review disqualified 24 signatures, most of them due to an invalid date by the signer. That left 1,055 signatures, which were then subjected to a challenge by Jayden Rittenbury, who said 179 signatures should be disqualified because either the signers also submitted signatures for other candidates, were not registered at the address they indicated on the petition, or had illegible signatures.

Staff then disqualified an additional 75 signatures for a variety of reasons, leaving Snyder with just 980, which was 20 less than required, making her petitions insufficient.

Snyder had joined the 8th District field late, dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate on March 22 to seek the GOP nomination. Other Republicans running are Paul Junge, who lost to Kildee in the 2022 election; former Dow Chemical executive Mary Draves; and trucking company owner Anthony Hudson.

Democrats in the race are Board of Education President Pamela Pugh, state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) and former Flint Mayor and Obama Administration appointee Matt Collier.

The congressional race most impacted by the bureau report was the 12th District, which saw three candidate petitions determined to be insufficient, including that of Democrat Ryan Foster, the only challenger for the nomination faced by incumbent U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit). Foster’s 1,181 petition signatures were whittled down to 926 after staff review and challenges.

Of the four Republicans seeking the nomination for the heavily Democratic district, two were also deemed to have insufficient valid petition signatures: Steven Elliott and Hassan Nehme.

Bureau staff invalidated 317 of Nehme’s signatures as the petition circulator improperly signed the sheets prior to their completion, leaving him below the 1,000 valid signature threshold. Elliot’s report, meanwhile, said staff review found some signatures were invalid for a number of technical reasons, while others were among 71 petition sheets that showed “clear indications of fraud.”

That will leave two Republicans in the race for the 12th District nomination: James Hooper and Linda Sawyer.

In the 10th District, two Democrats were found to have insufficient valid signatures: Anil Kumar, a member of the Wayne State Board of Governors, and Rhonda Powell. Staff found “clear indications of fraud” on at least 47 of Kumar’s petition sheets and thus he fell 50 valid signatures short of the 1,000 needed.

Powell, meanwhile, only turned in 964 signatures, according to the staff report, although she claimed a supplemental submission turned in by consultant Londell Thomas gave her 1,044. However, staff said there was no record of such a submission, and Powell said Thomas could not locate his receipt.

Thomas is also at the center of a petition scandal that disqualified former state Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) from the August primary ballot for the 13th Congressional District. Hollier admitted the signatures Thomas turned in on his behalf appeared to have been forged, which he referenced in a statement following his disqualification, saying he put his trust in “someone who let us down in the collection of signatures…”

In fact, Thomas’ name is one of 22 names listed by bureau staff as circulating petition sheets with “clear indications of fraud,” all of which are being referred for further investigation.

However, staff said it “does not have reason to believe that any specific candidates or campaigns were aware of the activities of circulators whose names appear on sheets showing clear indications of fraud.”

Other Democrats running in the 10th District are Emily Busch, Carl Marlinga, Tiffany Tilley and Diane Young. They all seek to replace the incumbent, U.S. Rep. John James (R-Shelby Twp.), who is running unopposed for the GOP nomination.

The final two congressional candidates found to have insufficient signatures were Josh Saul and JD Wilson, the two Republicans challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) in the 1st District.

In the case of Saul, all of his 1,221 signatures were invalidated because each of the petition sheets stated the title of the office as “House of Representatives,” and the district line as “1st.”

“However, this information is ambiguous in the context of this election because there are two offices on the ballot for the 1st district House of Representatives: one in the Michigan Legislature, Michigan House of Representatives and one in the United States Congress, U.S. House of Representatives,” stated the report.

In Wilson’s case, he also had all of his 1,240 signatures invalidated for not using petition forms that meet state election law requirements including improper formatting and language errors.

Bergman will now run unopposed for the GOP nomination to seek reelection, while two Democrats, Callie Barr and Bob Lorinser, will battle it out to take him on in November.

All of the staff reports are merely recommendations for the Board of State Canvassers (BSC), which is set to meet Friday, and will make the final determination who will appear on the ballot.

Also recommended for disqualification was U.S. Senate candidate Nasser Beydoun, a Dearborn Democrat, who says the staff reports are “comments not decisions” and plans to “vigorously defend” his petition signatures to state canvassers.

The BSC is split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans and has frequently deadlocked on partisan lines in recent years.

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For more, go to https://michiganadvance.com/.


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