LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — An appeals court has denied Perry Johnson’s attempt to get back on the ballot after phony petition signatures rendered Johnson unable to go on the Republican ballot for governor.

It’s the first key court decision since election officials found campaign petitions rife with fraudulent signatures.

Johnson is a wealthy businessman considered to be a leading candidate for the GOP nomination. But the decision could also apply to three other candidates, including former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. He’s also been dropped from the ballot.

There seems to be no dispute that fraudulent signatures were turned in by paid circulators, though there’s no evidence that the candidates were aware of the scam.

Johnson says he would meet the 15,000-signature threshold if the state elections bureau would examine each petition line by line.

Johnson is appealing to the Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday.

Craig’s eligibility to run for governor is still being determined in appellate court.