With two weeks to go before the April 21 filing deadline, there’s a whole bunch of intrigue surrounding the 8th Congressional District race.
Here’s where things stand:
The 8th, which includes all of Livingston and Ingham counties as well as northern Oakland County, is a slightly Republican-leaning district that’s currently represented by a Democrat, first-term U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin. By all accounts, it should be one of the country’s true battleground districts, but the Republican field of five challengers is underwhelming, to say the least.
And not only is it underwhelming – there’s a good chance that it’s about to get smaller, too.
Before we go any further, it’s also worth noting that NO, we aren’t going to see a surprise 11th-hour Republican candidate coming out of the wild now to save the party. No Mike Bishop, no Mike Rogers, no Mike Murphy. No Mikes, Bobs, Janes or anyone else. The Republican nominee is going to be one of the five who have already announced.
But here’s the situation: In order to make the ballot, a Congressional candidate needs to submit 1,000 valid signatures by April 21.
As of today, only three of the five Republicans have submitted enough signatures – Alan Hoover, Paul Junge and Kristina Lyke. The other two announced candidates – Mike Detmer and Nikki Snyder – have not. And there’s a whole bunch of indicators out there that say they aren’t going to make it.
(For what it’s worth, Slotkin hasn’t submitted her signatures, either, but there seems to be no doubt among political types that she has them. I don’t know why she hasn’t turned them in yet, though, so until it happens, there’s a sliver of hope among the Republicans.)
In the case of Detmer and Snyder, though, we have a whole bunch of reasons to think they won’t get enough signatures by April 21.
Foremost among these reasons, of course, is that fact that we’re all sheltering at home right now, which makes it pretty darn hard to collect signatures on a petition. It’s not like you can go to a crowded shopping mall in Lansing or Brighton with a clipboard these days.
Detmer and Snyder obviously didn’t have enough signatures when the shutdown began in mid-March, and it’s hard to see how they’re going to get them now. And if they don’t already have 1,000 signatures by now, they only have two options:
1. They can mail individual petitions to voters, have them fill them out and send them back. If you needed hundreds more petitions, for example, that would be very costly and a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the fact that you’d have to FIND hundreds of voters willing to do it.
2. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could come to their rescue and either extend the April 21 deadline, or waive (or lessen) the signature requirement. She could, for example, say that a candidate only needed 500 signatures and a $500 filing fee to make the ballot.
As for whether Whitmer has the authority to do that, I’m not a Constitutional scholar, but I’ve heard smarter people than me who’ve said that in these circumstances, she indeed does have the authority.
So, for Detmer and Snyder, assuming they don’t already have enough signatures in hand, those are the only options.
It’s pretty obvious from social media that Detmer does NOT think he has enough valid signatures in hand. He’s posted numerous videos and other posts in which he says he DOES have 1,000 signatures, but he’s just looking for some more – to have a cushion in case some of them are ruled to be invalid.
Perhaps. We’ll see. Whatever the case, he’s been posting something almost every single day on Facebook, asking people to request petitions and/or call the governor to demand she relax the rules.
As for Nikki Snyder, she hasn’t indicated on social media whether she does or doesn’t have the signatures. From what I can tell, she hasn’t posted anything like Detmer has – begging for signatures or calls to the governor.
Snyder is a nurse, which means she’s probably been pretty busy these days, so if she doesn’t have the signatures by now, it’s hard to see how she has enough time in the next two weeks to wrap this up.
Stay tuned! It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks.