5 Republicans booted from governor’s race, Whitmer fights for abortion access: The week in Michigan politics
LANSING, MI – If you didn’t tune into the 8-hour Board of State Canvassers meeting this week that one gubernatorial candidate described as a “goat rodeo,” we’ve got you covered.
On Thursday, the board met to decide the fate of 32 candidates who were facing disqualification from the Aug. 2 primary ballot because of issues like fraud and language errors on their circulating petitions.
It was a long and grueling meeting where state officials pored over detailed reports for all 32 candidates. Some candidates showed up at the meeting themselves, or with attorneys, to plead their case.
The board ended up booting 19 candidates from the primary ballot, including five Republican candidates for governor. Only 13 candidates qualified for the ballot after the board of canvassers found their petitions to be sufficient.
Also this week, Michigan’s Democratic governor has continued to fight for reproductive freedom as the U.S. Supreme Court looks to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case legalizing abortion access for women.
Here’s everything you may have missed this week in Michigan politics.
Michigan blocks 5 from GOP governor ballot – candidates promise lawsuits
Michigan’s gubernatorial race was turned upside down this week after the Michigan Board of State Canvassers booted five Republican candidates from the Aug. 2 primary ballot over petition errors and fraud.
The five disqualified candidates for governor, which included two frontrunners in the race, were James Craig, Perry Johnson, Donna Brandenburg, Michael Markey Jr. and Michael Brown. They now have the option to appeal the decision and could potentially still appear on the ballot, but they only have a week to do so.
The board on Thursday decided on the fate of a total of 32 candidates facing disqualification, including six candidates for Michigan governor, seven candidates for U.S. representative and 19 candidates for circuit and district court judges.
RELATED: ‘It’s their obligation’: Michigan boots 19 candidates from Aug. 2 ballots over petition errors, fraud
Of those 32, only 13 candidates qualified for the ballot after the board of canvassers found their petitions to be sufficient. The other 19 candidates were disqualified.
Johnson’s campaign filed a lawsuit Friday in the Michigan Court of Appeals to compel the Bureau of Elections to certify him as a candidate for the ballot. Craig and Markey also said they would challenge the decision in court and, in a social media post about the ruling, Brandenburg said “we are not done fighting.” Brown told reporters he will not fight the ruling.
It is still unclear who will be held responsible for the estimated 68,000 fake signatures that were found among the 10 candidate campaigns. The suspected incidents of petition fraud are currently under review by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office, who could issue potential criminal charges if she decides to investigate the case.
‘It’s not a decision that we take lightly,’ woman who had abortion tells Whitmer
Whitmer has continued to “fight like hell” to protect access to abortion in Michigan this week as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to soon overturn Roe v. Wade.
RELATED: Governor says she has signed Michigan abortion-rights ballot initiative
On Wednesday, the governor hosted a roundtable discussion in Sterling Heights to discuss reproductive rights. Whitmer, sitting at the head of the table, mostly listened to the eight participants at the discussion, occasionally jotting down notes, for about an hour.
Whitmer also said Wednesday she has signed the petition to place on the November ballot a proposal that would guarantee legal access to abortion and other services in Michigan.
The initiative is backed by the group Reproductive Freedom for All and a coalition of other organizations. The proposal needs 425,059 valid petition signatures from Michigan voters by mid-July to appear on the November ballot.
RELATED: Michigan abortion-rights amendment is too ‘far-reaching,’ opponents say
Whitmer issued an executive directive on Wednesday that orders state agencies to “take steps to protect reproductive rights” and to not cooperate with future abortion prosecutions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“Departments and agencies must review aspects of reproductive health care that fall within their jurisdiction,” Whitmer’s executive directive reads, in part, “and identify and assess potential opportunities to increase protections for reproductive health care, consistent with applicable law.”
RELATED: Gov. Whitmer orders state agencies, departments to protect abortion access in Michigan
Agencies that find they have a say on issues of reproductive health, the directive states, must report their conclusions to the governor within 30 days. The directive takes effect immediately.
Michigan gas prices would drop 50 cents under Senate-approved summer tax cut
With the average cost of gasoline in Michigan above $4.50 per gallon heading into Memorial Day weekend, the state Senate voted to temporarily nix taxes to reduce the price by about 50 cents and help summer travelers.
On Thursday, senators advanced a package of bills that would remove Michigan’s 27-cent-per-gallon fuel tax from June 15 through Sept. 15, as well as suspend the state’s 6% general sales tax on gasoline purchases.
The bills were quickly discharged from committee Thursday morning and fast-tracked to a full chamber vote in the afternoon. The Republican-led bills passed with bipartisan support, and they now go to the House, which has GOP control like the Senate.
The Senate Fiscal Agency notes these bills would cost the state between $763 million and $804 million in revenue, but Republican senators argued Michigan can take that hit, noting the state is projecting a $5 billion budget surplus over the next two years.
Turning 18 and want to vote? 1,000 Michigan high schoolers have already registered.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson hosted a voter registration initiative this spring that helped more than 1,000 high school students at 90 schools register to vote ahead of the 2022 elections.
The MI Vote Matters initiative challenged Michigan high schoolers this spring semester to learn about their right to vote and register. Schools that participate in the initiative get special recognition if 50% (bronze), 70% (silver) or 90% (gold) of all eligible high school seniors are registered. The statewide contest ended Friday, and the results will be announced next month.
State law says U.S. citizens at least 17.5 years old can pre-register to vote before they turn 18, and then automatically become voters on their 18th birthday. The first opportunity for these new Michigan voters to cast ballots will be the Aug. 2 primary election.
Click here to learn how you can register to vote in Michigan. You can check your registration status and find other helpful information about elections online at the Michigan Voter Information Center website.
Michigan budget bills headed for negotiations after moving through Senate, House
Michigan lawmakers are soon headed to the negotiating table to hammer out the state’s next budget after the House and Senate moved their proposed budget plans through both chambers last week.
Legislators have finished the process of pushing two separate budget proposals through the House and Senate. Lawmakers on both sides allowed both packages to fail in a floor vote Thursday, a procedural move that allows the budget bills to get to conference committees, where members of both chambers will negotiate a final budget plan.
The state’s budget for the 2023 fiscal year officially begins Oct. 1, and it must be signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by Sept. 30.
This year, lawmakers are working with a higher-than-expected boost in tax revenue for the state budget. But Whitmer and the Republican-led state legislature have clashed on the best way to return that money to Michiganders.
Michigan is projected to bring in a total of $31.5 billion in state general fund and school aid revenues this fiscal year, which is up $3 billion from previous projections, according to estimates shared at the state’s May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference last week.
DeVos family endorses GOP governor candidate Tudor Dixon
A Michigan gubernatorial candidate who was previously trailing her Republican competitors in the polls has just received a much-needed boost from the most politically powerful family in Michigan.
West Michigan’s DeVos family recently announced their endorsement behind Tudor Dixon to be Michigan’s next governor.
Dixon was one of 10 Republican candidates vying to challenge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November — although that field likely just narrowed to five after the State Board of Canvassers meeting. Luckily for Dixon, she made it past a challenge by the Michigan Democratic Party this week and will be able to appear on the Aug. 2 primary ballot.
Dick DeVos announced on Monday that his family is backing Dixon.
“We think Tudor – as a business leader, a mom – has the experience, the passion and a plan to put the state back on track,” DeVos said on the Paul W. Smith show.
DeVos ran for governor as a Republican in 2006, losing to incumbent Gov. Jennifer Granholm 56% to 42%. His wife, Betsy DeVos, was the Secretary of Education for President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021.
“We’ve seen failed leadership once again in our own state,” Dick DeVos said. “We saw it back in 2006 in my view and we’re seeing it again. It’s time for a change in leadership in this state.”
A late March poll of Republican voters in Michigan found Dixon had support of only 2.5% of voters, putting her fifth of the seven candidates mentioned in the poll. A late April poll found she had 1.8% of the support, putting her eighth of the 10 candidates – behind people like Michael Brown and Donna Brandenburg.
Dixon was just recently invited to the Republican debate at next week’s Mackinac Policy Conference after previously not being invited because of the low support.
Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate for Michigan governor. But Dixon was the only candidate he mentioned by name during his April rally in Michigan.
Nation’s top transportation official is heading to the Michigan island where cars are banned
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is coming to an island community in Michigan next week that famously does not allow motor vehicles.
Buttigieg announced this week he will go to Mackinac Island to deliver a keynote address Wednesday, June 1, at the Mackinac Policy Conference. He is expected to host a joint press conference with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer later in the day.
“Michigan is a great place to talk transportation – it’s home to many of the world’s great car manufacturers and a governor who has been a nation-leader on ‘fixing the damn roads,’” Buttigieg said in a statement about his upcoming trip.
Of course, the Secretary of Transportation does not only deal with motor vehicles. Buttigieg is a big proponent of other methods of travel, including biking.
The news release announcing his trip did not mention if the transportation secretary will have a motorcade, or go with a more accepted form of island travel like biking, horse-drawn carriage or hoofing it.
Whitmer is likely to tout the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan passed earlier this year in Michigan. The package is devoting $4.8 billion to water infrastructure projects, state parks, lead service line replacement, public transportation and some road projects, among other things.
More on MLive:
6 takeaways from the 8-hour meeting that cut Michigan’s GOP governor race in half
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Planned Parenthood plans to offer gender-affirming hormone therapy across Michigan
Alleged fraud tied to GOP governor candidate forms referred to AG for criminal probe
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