National Politics | State Politics

Write-in candidate? There's no such thing in the primary

To hear the MIGOP trying to sell this idea of “write-in,” I wonder why they’re selling you empty promises.

Follow along, folks.

This is what Michigan law actually says:

MCL 168.541 District primary elections; not held when no opposition; certification of candidates; notice to city and township clerks.

“If upon the expiration of the time for filing petitions in any primary, the secretary of state shall find within a given district that there is no opposition for any office upon any ticket, he shall forthwith give notice to the clerk of the several counties embraced, at the same time certifying the names of the candidates and the office to which they aspire to the state board of canvassers, who shall declare them the nominees for the respective offices, and shall give notice to the clerk of the several counties embraced in such district, and if the clerk shall find that there is no opposition for any office upon any ticket for a county office, then it shall be the duty of such clerk to forthwith give notice to the several city and township clerks interested that a primary will not be held as contemplated, but in no event shall a primary election be abandoned in any township, city, county or district wherein there shall be opposition for any office upon any ticket.”

I will paraphrase MCL 168.541 for everyone:

If only one person is qualified for nomination and no others qualify, that one person automatically becomes the nominee.

It’s non-negotiable.  The law says that if there’s only one qualified nominee, that nominee is certified by the Secretary of State to the County Clerks for the State Board of Canvassers, and goes directly to the general election as the nominee of the party.

If there were a competitor, then there would be a primary.  But there’s also no way to establish “write-in” as a competitor to Kerry Bentivolio.  “Write-in” doesn’t have a nomination petition, nor does this entity have an Affidavit of Identity.  Thus, Mr. “Write-In” cannot be a competitor.  And absent said competitor under MCL 168.541, there’s no way Rep. Thaddeus McCotter can participate in the MI-11 district primary, and can’t challenge squat.

Why, you may ask?  All the media is saying otherwise.  Thad was on Beckmann the other day, saying he could.  And lots of high-and-mighty pundits were over at the Grand Raccoon Hotel up north, saying the same thing.  A write-in vote must happen, because they said so.

Who cares about the law, right?  We’re MIGOP.

In the real world come August 2012, according to MCL 168.541, there won’t be a primary in MI-11 on the Republican side at all.  Absent a competitor, the lone qualified candidate (Kerry Bentivolio) becomes the nominee.

Plain and simple.

Pending the decision of the State Board of Canvassers, Rep. McCotter’s only real hope is to enter the general election as an independent, split the conservatives, and give the Dems the district.  There’s really no latitude for a political or judicial favor, because this statute is rather specific and clear, with little room for lawyering.

As for Rep. McCotter, there is still the slim chance he can convince the State Board of Canvassers that he was a victim of fraud.  But he’ll have to have a signed confession with 127 lost pages of valid signatures by next week to have any credibility here.

We should be smart about this as well.  It is no mystery who was in charge of getting those petitions sent over to Secretary of State from the McCotter camp.  I mean, there can’t be more than 5 people who Thad gives these duties to.  And I’d hate to think Rep. McCotter’s staff is incompetent, because it’s probably worse to be complete idiots than savvy political players, right?

I’d rather suggest foul play than admit I hire fools to run a 5-term Congressman’s campaign.

So let us see if idiocy is better than sabotage.  Take the Save McCotter Quiz:

Question 1.

You are alone in Rep. McCotter’s Livonia office at 2:30 P.M.  You are called upon to send the MI-11 nomination petitions to the Secretary of State today.  But when you gather the pile of petitions, there are only 200 signatures instead of 2,000.  

You learn that someone was eating delicious ChocoTacos instead of canvassing the district.  

You know that if you don’t send the petitions, Rep. McCotter will not qualify for the primary.  If you send faked petitions, you can hope it is overlooked.  At the least, you have a slim chance at success.  You have until 4:00 p.m. to get the paperwork to the Secretary of State’s office.

Do you:

A.  Send 200 names and hope Secretary of State Johnson’s pet cat Mittens is in charge today.

B.  Send 2,000 names filled with duplicates, hoping Secretary of State Johnson’s pet cat Mittens will blindly approve an incumbent’s “mere formality” filing, expecting social engineering to carry the day.

C.  All of the above, as well as calling Rep. McCotter in Hawaii to tell him his incumbency depends on a fictional pet cat named Mittens.

Really, what would you do if you were that individual?  If there was sabotage, Rep. McCotter would have 127 pages of real signatures somewhere, right?  And Rep. McCotter could say that an individual not only sent faked nomination petitions, but also destroyed or otherwise hid the “real petitions” that had valid signatures on them.

Thus, a narrative to recover the Lost Ark of the Petition.

But what if there was no sabotage, and chaos simply reigned that afternoon?

Wouldn’t it be a great political theater to hint at sabotage, but then provide little evidence of it in order to keep people confused?  Then, declare a write-in campaign that not only violates MCL 168.541, but also has no legal basis or precedent in the contemporary history of our federal races in the United States of America?

I really looked this up.  If you failed to qualify for a primary, the only way you could become the nominee is when no one else ran.  If someone qualified, they become the automatic nominee, and the only way to challenge them is through the general election, not the primary.

What Rep. McCotter suggests is completely bunk.  A “write-in” won’t happen if you actually look at the MCLs.  Truth is, what he suggests has never been done before.


A write-in candidate (who fails to qualify with signatures) can only qualify for nomination of his or her respective party when no one else qualifies, and they win on write-in votes against other write-in votes.  If a qualified-by-law candidate is unopposed (MCL 168.541), then that individual is the nominee.  There are no magical “Write-In” competitions, or American Idol call-ins before the general election.

The MIGOP should wake up from this pipe dream.  Absent a miracle from the State Board of Canvassers, a signed confession, and the sudden reappearance of 127 pages of valid signatures, there’s no way Rep. McCotter can be in a primary this August, because in MI-11, there will be no primary at all in August 2012.

Thad, meet MCL 168.541.

Mako out.