One week after he shocked the Oakland County and state political establishment by announcing that he didn’t qualify for the Aug. 7 primary election ballot, U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter has dropped another bombshell on the political landscape by announcing that he isn’t running as a write-in candidate for the 11th Congressional District.
McCotter, the five-term Republican who launched a short-lived bid for the presidency last year, didn’t turn in enough valid voter signatures to appear on the primary ballot. On Tuesday, May 29, he said he would be seeking the GOP nomination as a write-in candidate — a lofty challenge that would have cost substantially more money than virtually anyone had anticipated his campaign costing — for the U.S. House of Representatives.
His Saturday, June 2 announcement that he won’t be running as a write-in candidate — a decision he said is based on the inability to “clean up a mess multitasking” — didn’t rule out a campaign as an independent candidate.
The filing deadline for independent candidates is July 19.
“Honoring my promise to the sovereign people of our community only allows me to finish the official duties of my present Congressional term; and aid the state Attorney General criminal investigation that I requested into identifying the person or persons who concocted the fraudulent petitions that have cost me so dearly.”
McCotter is referring to the 244 valid registered voter signatures that were submitted to get him on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot. Although he submitted just over 1,800 voter signatures in total — Congressional candidates are required to submit at least 1,000 valid signatures — many of them were revealed to be either duplicates or in other ways invalid.
“We’ve provided information to the (state) Attorney General’s Office for a possible investigation,” said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, adding that there was “possible election law violation, and that’s why we turned them over.”
“We will follow the facts, without fear or favor,” said state Attorney General Bill Schuette in announcing the commencement of his office’s investigation. “It’s our duty to maintain the integrity of our election process. We will conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation. If evidence of criminal violations is uncovered, we will not hesitate to prosecute.”
McCotter said he welcomes the investigation.
“I thank the Michigan Secretary of State and Attorney General for commencing the criminal investigation of petitions I requested Tuesday. I will assist as they see fit.”
Who decides to fill the vacuum remains a matter of speculation. Former state Sen. Loren Bennett of Canton announced on Friday that he will be running as a Republican write-in candidate for the 11th Congressional District. Other names bandied about include Rocky Raczkowski and Paul Welday, both of whom ran in 2010 for the Republican Party’s nomination against U.S. Rep. Gary Peters.
State Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake, Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield) said last week that he will not run as a write-in candidate, but Kowall’s announcement came before McCotter said he wouldn’t seek a sixth term as a write-in candidate.
He said he made a “conscientious decision” not to seek the congressional seat.
“It was more than just one issue,” he said.
Milford Republican Kerry Bentivolio, a teacher and Vietnam War veteran who has significant Tea Party support, is the only candidate who will appear as a Republican on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot. He ran for state Senate two years ago in the Republican primary election that Kowall eventually won handily.
Republican sources characterized the McCotter candidate petition signature flap using terms such as “incompetence” and “fraud,” and that it was “done so poorly” that it’s unexplainable.
McCotter took responsibility for the kerfuffle last week when he announced he would be running as a write-in candidate.
“The buck stops with me,” he said. “That’s why I urge the continued investigation into the petitions. Everyone deserves to know what happened regarding this filing.”
The new 11th Congressional District includes Waterford, West Bloomfield, White Lake, Commerce, Wolverine Lake, Walled Lake, Wixom, Milford, White Lake, and Highland after being redrawn last year following the release of U.S. Census data.
U.S. representatives serve two-year terms and are paid about $172,000 annually.
The general election is slated for Nov. 6.