(Source: MIRS.news, Published 04/15/2022) The Republican primary ballot for Governor will be the state's largest gubernatorial primary race in Michigan history, as long as the presumed top-tier candidates file their signatures on time.
As of Friday, six Republican gubernatorial candidates have submitted their required petition signatures of at least 15,000 – and a maximum of 30,000 – to the Michigan Bureau of Elections.
The pool with a spot on the August 2022 ballot (unless too many of their signatures are rejected) include "American First" horse rescuer Donna Brandenburg, Michigan State Police Captain Michael Brown, Grand Haven financial advisor Michael Markey Jr., Farmington Hills pastor Ralph Rebandt and anti-lockdown advocates Garrett Soldano and Ryan Kelley.
However, if self-funded campaigners Kevin Rinke and "Quality Guru" Perry Johnson, retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Republican commentator Tudor Dixon manage to submit their signatures by 4 p.m. April 19, the Republican primary ballot for governor would hit 10 candidates – making it the largest gubernatorial primary ballot in Michigan history.
It's still possible an 11th candidate, Bob Scott, could file signatures. It's highly unlikely 12th candidate Evan Space will file the needed signatures.
The state's first-ever primary election for gubernatorial candidates was held in 1910, after a new law opened the polls up for general voters to decide on their preferred party's frontrunners. Today, MIRS reviewed the candidates of all of Michigan's 42 gubernatorial primaries.
So far, the most jam-packed primary occurred in 1920, when there were nine Republicans were on the ballot. Former Gov. Alex Groesbeck won the nomination with 28% of the vote, beating Milo Campbell (20%), Charles S. Mott (15.8%), Frank Leland (8.9%), Frank Martindale (7.9%), James Hamilton (6%), future Gov. Luren Dickinson (5.9%), Cassius Glasgow (4.4%), and Horatio Earle (3.1%).
Groesbeck went on to defeat Michigan's "Good Gray Governor," Democrat Woodbridge Ferris, who had already served from 1913 to 1917.
Democrats experienced their most crowded gubernatorial primary election in 1982, which four Republicans also sought after. Exactly 40 years ago, Republican President Ronald Reagan was subjected to a lower-than-usual approval rating – within the 40% range -- as citizens dealt with a 6.16% inflation rate.
The seat was open, grievances were high and Democrats saw an opportunity to take back the governorship after two decades, according to Bill Ballenger, a former state senator and founder of Inside Michigan Politics.
Then-U.S. Rep. James Blanchard rose to success and won the governorship by the end of 1982.
"You can also make the argument that any Democrat in 1982 probably would have won or been able to win against a Republican because it was kind of a Democratic year, and in 2010, that was a big Republican year," Ballenger said, also referencing the five-candidate GOP primary previous Gov. Rick Snyder won in August 2010 with 36.4% of the vote.
However, returning to the present, Ballenger said if the Republican gubernatorial ballot hits 10 – or even nine – official candidates by the end of next week, it would "certainly" be the most crowded primary he's seen in his lifetime.
"We don't know what lies ahead. We don't know what things are going to be like in 2024, but right now, they're not looking good for the Democrats," Ballenger told MIRS. "I would say Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is very vulnerable. She's got a lot of people out there who don't like her. But on the other hand, if she faces a very weak Republican -- whoever gets the nomination, if they're a flawed candidate -- she could still win."
He said in his 55-year-long political career, he's never seen a case where a gubernatorial candidate dropped out and was able to get their name removed from the ballot in time for August.
In a perfect world where the aforementioned four candidates file their necessary signatures, the ballot would be stretched out for 10 Republicans, with write-in candidates still on option for voters.
Ballenger underscored that in Michigan, "plurality wins."