June 10, 2023

The Furthest from Reality

By Stephen Tuttle | June 18, 2022

Let’s check in on some Michigan politics at the top of the ticket.

The Democrat side is pretty much set with Governor Gretchen Whitmer as the candidate. Her road to reelection is likely to be bumpy given all that has happened in her tenure, including much over which she had no control. It probably won’t help that pundits are predicting big gains for the other side of the ticket in Congressional races. But the Republicans might be helping her chances.

It wasn’t that long ago the Republican side of that race included a robust 10 candidates. The front-runners were former Detroit Chief of Police James Craig and self-financing businessman Perry Johnson.

Half that field, including Craig and Johnson, were eliminated due to an insufficient number of valid petition signatures. There were, however, plenty of fraudulent signatures created by someone other than the alleged petition signer. The fingers are being pointed at the professional petition signature gatherers, and both the Craig and Johnson campaigns were quick to announce their candidate had nothing to do with the fraud or forgeries or whatever it was that happened. (Though it appears some criminal activity occurred, it’s important to point out no one has been charged with anything as this is being written.)

The disqualified candidates complained that not every signature was checked and headed to court. Every level of state court, up to and including the state Supreme Court, delivered the same bad news: The law doesn’t require every signature be checked and enough were sampled to know none of the five removed from the ballot had the required 15,000 signatures.

In a major campaign, there should be people assigned to make sure those signatures are valid. It’s the most basic of candidate responsibilities, and those campaigns should have caught the sloppy—if not overtly fraudulent—signature gathering long before the petitions were submitted.

Craig is now planning a Quixotic write-in campaign, and Johnson, who touted himself as the “quality guru” only to start his campaign with incompetence, has now lost a case in federal court trying to stop the state from printing ballots without his name on them.

Which leaves us with new front-runners among a group we don’t know much about, though all are preening for a Donald Trump endorsement. Two of the remaining five have already been especially noxious.

Kevin Rinke is on the air with a patently misleading television spot. His cutesy little commercial, with a zombie wannabe voter next him, perpetuates the lie there was something amiss with the 2020 elections that needs fixing and he’s just the person to do it. He won’t let dead people vote, and he’ll create some sort of election integrity unit. He has wondered aloud why “…dead people always vote Democrat…” and whines that Whitmer is not doing “…a thing to fix voter fraud.”

We’re now at the point where those still believing there were widespread irregularities or voter fraud in 2020 must be willfully ignorant. Around the country, almost 300 recounts and audits took place, including in the largest counties in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin. No widespread fraud was found anywhere, nor were instances of voting machines changing votes or of any of the other nonsensical conspiracy theories being spewed by the likes of our GOP gubernatorial candidates.

Rinke’s zombie is marginally clever but a lie. His insult of Whitmer is an attempted distortion. FactCheck.org keeps track of arcane bits of election information like how many dead people voted. In both 2016 and 2020, they found exactly zero cases of dead people voting, or someone trying to vote for them, in Michigan.

The Heritage Foundation does their own election integrity research, and in 2020 they found six instances nationally of someone attempting to vote for a dead person, five of whom were attempting to vote for Republicans. The Associated Press also records any activity that might be considered fraud. They found 56 instances of potential voter fraud in Michigan in 2020, about half of which did not involve the presidential contest. That’s out of more than 5.4 million votes cast.

Candidate Rinke would like to convince you there’s a problem that doesn't actually exist. There was no fraud of any significance, and anyone whose campaign is built on that lie hasn’t earned our vote.

Which brings us to Ryan Kelley, who would have remained nearly anonymous had he not been arrested due to his actions in Washington on Jan. 6. He claims it’s a “political witch hunt,” but the federal prosecutor who brought the charges is a Trump appointee, and the investigation started before Kelley was even a candidate.

This could become a GOP primary contest to determine which candidate can wander the furthest from reality. And if that’s the case, the gubernatorial race might not be so close after all.


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