U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, the conservative, guitar-playing Michigan congressman who briefly sought the Republican presidential nomination before withdrawing from the race last September, may suddenly find his congressional career in jeopardy.
McCotter, who dropped out of the GOP presidential sweepstakes after a disastrous showing in the Ames Straw Poll last August, had briefly considered challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow before deciding to seek a sixth term in the U.S. House earlier this year.
The low-key and witty congressman was expected to coast to a relatively easy re-election victory, but that all changed on Friday.
According to the Detroit Free Press, McCotter’s campaign may have failed to obtain the 1,000 valid signatures required to appear on the August primary ballot.
According to the Detroit newspaper, McCotter’s campaign submitted the legal limit of 2,000 signatures, but many of them may have been duplicates, in which case both signatures would be tossed out by election officials.
In a statement issued late Friday, the 46-year-old Livonia lawmaker acknowledged problems with his nominating petitions.
“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,” said McCotter. “Out of respect for Memorial Day, an announcement of our findings will be made public on Tuesday.”
If his petitions are deemed insufficient, McCotter can appeal to the state’s Board of Canvassers, which is scheduled to meet the first week in June.
If he is subsequently removed from the GOP primary ballot, the five-term congressman would still have the option of mounting a write-in campaign for his party’s nomination or filing as an independent or third-party candidate prior to the state’s July 19 filing deadline.
McCotter is reportedly considering the write-in option — a high-stakes gamble that could propel other well-known Republicans to enter the fray as rival write-in candidates.
Kerry Bentivolio, a Vietnam veteran and longtime schoolteacher from Milford, is the only other Republican candidate who filed in the primary.
Meanwhile, the 11th congressional district remains marginally competitive. McCotter, for example, won with only 51 percent of the vote four years ago.
Not surprisingly, McCotter’s unexpected ballot woes have given the district’s Democrats reason for optimism. The August 7 Democratic primary has suddenly taken on new significance.
Dr. Syed Taj, a Canton physician who was born and raised in India, is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by Bill Roberts, a young and articulate LaRouche Democrat campaigning on a platform calling for the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, separating commercial banking from highly-speculative investment banking — the reckless and unregulated “casino capitalism” that created the devastating 2008 financial meltdown — and the establishment of a national credit system.
Roberts, who lives in Redford, is part of a national slate of congressional candidates sponsored by economist and former presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, one of the most maligned political figures in American history.
Unlike the incumbent Republican, Roberts submitted 1,940 signatures with an impressive preliminary validity rate of 74 percent.
The district hasn’t elected a Democratic congressman since the Lyndon Johnson landslide of 1964 when Raymond F. Clevenger — one of Michigan’s “Five Fluke Freshmen” — narrowly defeated a Republican incumbent.
Roberts, who has been campaigning tirelessly since formally announcing his candidacy in early February, hopes to break that streak in November. Unlike Clevenger, he’ll owe his good fortune to another Lyndon.
Then again, it might be too soon to count McCotter out. “I’m from Detroit,” he once famously quipped, “we live to prove the doubters wrong.”