EAST LANSING (AP) – A costly special election to fill the last two months of former Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s congressional term could be canceled if just one candidate runs.
Gov. Rick Snyder called a special election earlier this week after the Livonia congressman abruptly resigned, saying it was constitutionally required. But his administration now says it will cancel the $650,000 undertaking in suburban Detroit’s 11th District if only one person – or none – decides to run.
Republican Nancy Cassis of Novi said Friday on public television’s “Off the Record” program that she may withdraw from the race if she’s one of only two candidates on the ballot.
So far, the only other person running is Republican Kerry Bentivolio of Milford. No Democrats or other Republicans have filed. Candidates have until July 20 to qualify for the ballot by collecting 1,000 valid signatures. The deadline to withdraw is July 23, according to the secretary of state’s office. Any candidate who withdraws after that would appear on the ballot.
The extra financial burden of running a special primary election on Sept. 5 and an 11th District special election on the same day as the Nov. 6 general election has clerks in the Oakland and Wayne County communities affected up in arms. Some have asked that the state pick up the cost, a decision that is up to state lawmakers. Local communities usually are responsible for their own elections.
Cassis said the special election is a waste of money. If it’s held, she thinks McCotter should use some of his remaining campaign funds – he reported having $193,000 at the end of March – to pay for part of it.
Even if no special election is held, Cassis and Bentivolio will meet in the Aug. 5 primary election, since both are running for the seat’s full two-year term. Bentivolio, a teacher and tea party supporter, is the only Republican on the ballot. Cassis, a former state senator, has launched a write-in campaign and is spending $200,000 of her own money to defeat Bentivolio, along with more than $50,000 in contributions.
Cassis on Friday held up a piece of campaign literature she’s mailing to 17,000 households explaining how to write in her name on the ballot. She’s also sending brochures to absentee voters, running cable television ads on the Fox affiliate in Detroit and campaigning door-to-door with volunteers this weekend.
“Doing a write-in campaign is an uphill battle,” the 68-year-old acknowledged, noting she’ll need an estimated 40,000 votes to win. “But … I’m a darn good campaigner. I work very, very hard.”
Bentivolio has criticized Cassis for getting into the race after a group of Republican-elected officials unified behind her, unhappy that Bentivolio was the only choice. He said the move was an insult to the tea party supporters who signed petitions to get him on the ballot and an “electioneering scheme.”
A call to Bentivolio campaign spokesman Robert Dindoffer asking if Bentivolio has considered withdrawing from the special election was not immediately returned Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, Bentivolio’s campaign sent out a news release saying that McCotter had resigned to force a special election and allow Cassis to collect more in campaign contributions. It called on Cassis “to apologize for this political gamesmanship or thoroughly explain that she was not involved and repudiate Thaddeus McCotter’s actions.”
Cassis said Friday that she was just as upset with the need for a special election and denied she played any role in McCotter’s resignation.
“My opponent and his campaign … seem pretty irresponsible and foolish in some of the things they have done,” she said.
McCotter announced his resignation July 6, capping a bizarre political downfall that started after the Livonia Republican’s campaign failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to get him on the ballot for re-election to a sixth term. McCotter is cooperating with an investigation by the state attorney general’s office about the signatures, many of which appeared to be copied from past petitions.
Cassis said she found McCotter’s decision to withdraw “bizarre and very troubling.”
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