U.S. Congressman Thad McCotter denied ballot in re-election primary race; announces write-in campaign

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Official congressional photo of Thaddeus McCotter.
Image: United States Congress.

U.S. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia, Michigan failed to collect enough valid signatures by the May 15 deadline to appear on the August 7 Republican Party primary ballot for Michigan's 11th congressional district, says Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. As a result, McCotter announced yesterday in a The Detroit News editorial that he will wage a write-in campaign to secure his party's nomination.

Since 2003, McCotter has represented the 11th district, being re-elected four times. He briefly sought the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nomination before dropping out last September, when he announced he would re-focus his efforts on his fifth congressional re-election bid.

In May, the McCotter campaign submitted a petition of 2,000 signatures to place McCotter on the Republican Party primary ballot; only 1,000 were necessary. Nevertheless, only 244 of the signatures presented were deemed valid.

Reviewing the submission, The Detroit News found that some signatures were photocopied onto the petition, some duplicated, and others appeared to be cut and pasted from previous petitions. Director for the Bureau of Elections Christopher Thomas described the situation as "unprecedented" and the matter has been turned over to the office of the Michigan Attorney General for a possible investigation of fraud.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, McCotter speculated that "Somebody either panicked or it was sabotage...My gut tells me that we got lied to by someone we trusted." He supports an investigation, but has taken responsibility for what happened.

In his write-in campaign announcement, laden with pop cultural references, McCotter admitted, "Yes, a write-in campaign is a difficult hill to climb but, as I am responsible for the hill, I will climb it to the utmost of my ability." According to Inside Michigan Politics editor Bill Ballenger, McCotter is the first sitting Congressman to not qualify for his party's primary ballot in the last fifty years.

Kerry Bentivolio, a former teacher from Milford, Michigan, will be the only candidate listed on the Republican primary ballot. In order to vote for McCotter, voters will have to manually write in his name. He says that to win this way requires "groundwork — the people-to-people, door-to-door and personal networking so that voters know they have to take that extra step."