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Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter ends primary campaign amid fraud probe

June 03, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) at a Republican Party event in Iowa.
Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) at a Republican Party event in Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated…)

U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) announced an end to his write-in efforts to take back his seat in Congress on Saturday night, after his campaign failed to rally enough signatures to remain on the primary ballot.

“I have ended my write-in campaign in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District,” McCotter announced in a statement released on his website. “One can’t clean up a mess multitasking. Honoring my promise to the sovereign people of our community only allows me to finish the official duties of my present Congressional term; and aid the State Attorney General criminal investigation that I requested into identifying the person or persons who concocted the fraudulent petitions that have cost me so dearly.”

The investigation McCotter references is one prompted by the signatures collected by his campaign. After the nearly 2,000 signatures were reviewed, the Michigan secretary of state’s office concluded that just 244 were valid, substantially less than the 1,000 needed to stay on the ballot, were valid after a number of duplications and irregularities were discovered. Michigan Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette has since begun a criminal investigation under the suspicion of fraud. The Detroit News, in a review of the submitted signatures, found that many pages were photocopied wholesale and just placed further along in the 136-page collection of signatures, or just taken from a 2010 petition.

Michigan’s 11th Congressional District will now be a race between Kerry Bentivolio, a Vietnam War veteran and teacher, and former state Sen. Loren Bennett, who has announced that he will be running as a write-in candidate. The primary will be held Aug. 7.

"We need someone who takes the job seriously," Bennett said Friday, announcing his candidacy. "Even though it's an enormous uphill battle, I'm putting my name and reputation out there. I don't know if I will be more successful than an incumbent in a write-in campaign. But after what has happened here, the public deserves a choice."

McCotter, who has served in Congress for 10 years, previously made headlines with a short-lived bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2011. But now, with this electoral fiasco, McCotter joins the series of Republican shakeups in Congress, including tea party-backed Ted Cruz forcing a runoff election in the race for the Senate in Texas, Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar losing the party’s primary or the ongoing challenge to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.

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morgan.little@latimes.com

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