Two of the top Republican candidates for governor may not make the ballot, as well as three other candidates, because they didn’t get the required number of valid petition signatures.

Findings by the Michigan Bureau of Elections say that James Craig and Perry Johnson didn’t make the cut. The bureau is also recommending Michael Markey, Michael Brown, and Donna Brandenburg be removed from the ballot.

Candidates needed 15,000 valid signatures to make the ballot. The report found:

  • 11,144 of Donna Brandenberg’s signatures were not valid, leaving her with 6,634
  • 13,775 of Michael Brown’s signatures were not valid, leaving him with 7,091
  • 9,879 of James Craig’s signatures were not valid, leaving him with 10,192
  • 17,374 of Michael Markey’s signatures were not valid, leaving him with 4,430
  • 6,983 of Perry Johnson’s signatures were not valid, leaving him with 13,800

Their signatures were among some 68,000 across 10 campaigns called into question by the board, citing some three dozen people who collected questionable signatures.

“Our campaign was not notified of any problems with signatures until 8:09 pm tonight. It appears the Michigan Bureau of Elections is disqualifying every signature from certain circulators whether valid or invalid.”

“When we filed over 20,000 signatures on April 12th we were told by the Secretary of State that if we did not receive correspondence from their office, it would indicated that they would have not found any irregularities.”

“We will be doing a thorough review and making an additional statement at a later time. Michael Brown will make an appropriate decision as soon as he has all the information.”

Brown Campaign Manager David Yardely

The report says it has no evidence the candidates or campaigns organized or knew about those questionable signatures.

If those recommendations are approved by the Board of State Canvassers, then they won’t be on the ballot for the primary on August 2nd and effectively end their bids for governor.

It would also reduce the number of potential GOP gubernatorial candidates from 10 to 5.

The failure to make it to the ballot would be a shocking development for Craig, the former Detroit police chief whose nomination once – to some – seemed like a certainty. Speculation began while he was still chief. Craig was wooed and then backed by a number of prominent Michigan Republicans. Then the missteps began.

He accidentally announced he was running for governor on Fox News. Then one of the men who helped launch Craig’s campaign left it, as did other campaign managers. His campaign suffered after he said he wasn’t sure of his stance of abortion in the case of rape or incest. His campaign kickoff was marred by protesters. And a Michigan Congressman withdrew his endorsement of Craig in favor of opponent Perry Johnson. Craig was also one of just two no-shows at a recent debate.

Craig even admitted that some of the signatures on his petitions might not be legitimate, though he said he had enough valid ones to make the ballot.

Perry Johnson may also fail to make the ballot. That would be a blow to the man who made “quality” his buzzword. In fact, Johnson’s campaign website can be found at “qualitymichigan.com” and the letter announcing his campaign is signed “Perry Johnson – Quality Guru”.

He’s a millionaire who kicked off his campaign with a Super Bowl ad.

Johnson’s attorney says the allegations against his candidate “fails to point to a single fraudulent signature filed by the six circulators… speculation is not enough to invalidate signatures.”

And Johnson’s campaign strategist John Yob dismissed the issue as a “partisan and cynical attempt” to stop Johnson’s bid.

Today he also announced a plan to reform the petition process for candidates running for office.

“Michigan’s petition process is fatally flawed because it easily allows criminals to victimize candidates for public office and their thousands of supporters who legitimately sign petitions,” Johnson said in a written statement on Monday. “We must bring quality to the petition process by allowing campaigns a mechanism to compare signatures that are gathered by circulators with signatures on the Qualified Voter File to ensure their legitimacy.”

If the five candidates are found not to qualify, that would leave Garrett Soldano, Kevin Rinke, Tudor Dixon, Ryan Kelley, and Ralph Rebandt as the Republican gubernatorial contenders.

But it’s not over for Craig, Johnson, or the other candidates. The final decision rests with the Board of State Canvassers, which should meet later this week.

This story will be updated.

Stay tuned to 6 News for continuing coverage of Election 2022.