By Kathleen Gray/Detroit Free Press
U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia, may not have turned in enough signatures to qualify for the Aug. 7 primary ballot.
In a statement released earlier this evening, McCotter said he was informed by the Michigan Secretary of State offices that he hadn’t turned in enough valid signatures to get on the ballot. According to the SOS website, he turned in 2,000 signatures, the maximum allowable.
“Fully respecting the accuracy and integrity of the Secretary of State's office, we
will thoroughly review our petition signatures for their sufficiency or
insufficiency,” McCotter said in a statement released about 8:30 p.m. Friday. “Out of respect for Memorial Day, an announcement of our findings will be made
public on Tuesday.”
No one from the SOS or McCotter’s office immediately returned phone calls to elaborate on the statement or how the signatures were insufficient.
The stunning news throws the 11th congressional race into turmoil. The newly drawn district runs from western Wayne County into southwest Oakland County and across into Birmingham and the Bloomfields.
Oakland County Republican Party chairman Jim Thienel said he was shocked by the news.
“I’m amazed that as a sitting congressman, he could allow this to happen,” Thienel said. “For them not to file an appropriate amount is just unbelieveable.”
Another Republican – Milford teacher Kerry Bentivolio also is on the ballot, along with Democrats William Roberts of Redford and Dr. Taj Syed of Canton.
David Trott, a Bingham Farms attorney and founder of one of the nation’s leading firms handling mortgage foreclosures, thought about running for the seat, but decided to wait until 2014, Thienel said.
State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, also had thrown his hat into the ring, but decided earlier this year to abandon the race.
"I'm sitting here just trying to absorb the news,” Kowall said. “I don’t know what to think and I’m very rarely at a loss for something to say."
McCotter launced a short-lived run for the presidency last July, but withdrew from the contest by September.
Gisgie Gendreau, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State, said that one of the problems with the signatures was duplicate signatures. When the SOS finds duplicates, both signatures are bounced from the petitions.
"He can make his case to the Board of Canvassers," Gendreau said. "They still have to vote to certify the signatures."
The board is expected to meet the first week of June, although a firm date hasn't been set.
McCotter also could run as a write-in Republican candidate or an independent. No matter what the outcome for McCotter, the state Republican party promised to hold on to the seat.
"We' are certain to control this seat," said Michigan GOP spokesman Matt Frendeway. "We're confident in that."
McCotter, 46, was elected to Congress in 2002 and easily won reelection every two years since. Before that, he was a state Senator from 1998-2002 and a Wyne County Commissioner from 1992-98.
In the last several years, he's become a favorite guest on conservative radio talk shows and Fox News. A prolific twitter user, McCotter tweeted his statement about the signature snafu.
Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer said McCotter will have a tough time launching a write-in or and independent campaign.
“We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out,” Brewer said. “It just seems like indifference or carelessness, whatever you want to call it. Maybe he just spent too much campaigning for president and not enough paying more attention to home.