LIVONIA (WWJ/AP)–  Five southeastern Michigan Republicans are vying in a special election this week for a chance to fill the final weeks of ex-U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s term in Congress.

McCotter resigned July 6 during an investigation of irregularities in the nominating petitions that kept the Livonia Republican from seeking re-election. Four ex-McCotter aides face state charges on accusations they participated in a scheme to submit false signatures.

Wednesday’s primary election will pick a candidate to face Belleville Democrat David Curson, a Marine veteran and union activist, in the Nov. 6 general election. The winner serves only from mid-November through year’s end.

The candidates include former Fowlerville High School teacher Kerry Bentivolio of Milford and former state Sen. Nancy Cassis of Novi

Three Livonia residents also are on the ballot: Steve King, founder of the band the Dittlies; Carolyn Kavanagh, daughter of District Judge Sean Kavanagh; and Kenneth Crider.

The district in its present form covers a swath of Detroit’s western and northwestern suburbs. It includes a large portion of western Wayne County and a section of southwestern Oakland County. The district was redrawn for the term that begins in January, based on the 2010 U.S. Census.

A separate contest on the Nov. 6 ballot decides who fills the seat in 2013-2014. Bentivolio faces Democratic Canton Township trustee and physician Syed Taj in that race.

The conservative-leading district appeared McCotter’s to lose until election officials found that he had submitted nominating petitions with too few valid signatures to make it onto the Aug. 7 primary ballot. An investigation found many of the signatures had been forged or copied from other petitions.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette cleared McCotter of criminal liability in the case but said the congressman  was “asleep at the switch” and failed to properly oversee his staff.

McCotter stressed that he welcomed the investigation, adding that he plans to “embrace of the enduring blessings of private life.”

The special election is expected to cost the state $650,000.

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