March 31, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Thaddeus McCotter's Botch Risks Seat

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

But McCotters campaign will prove challenging for House Republicans in multiple ways. The NRCC has not supported a write-in candidate since Shelley Sekula-Gibbs sought  the seat of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) in 2006. And in Michigan, no one has won a write-in campaign for Congress in recent history.

First, McCotter must file his intent to run as a write-in candidate by July 27. Michigan election law does not require the voter to write in the name of a candidate perfectly, but the voters intent must be clear.

To secure the GOP nomination, McCotter must receive more votes than the lone Republican on the ballot, teacher Kerry Bentivolio, a perennial candidate.

Additionally, McCotter must have a certain number of write-in votes to qualify as the nominee. The secretary of states office determines that threshold as at least 0.15 of 1 percent of the total population of the district.

Republicans estimated McCotter could need 25,000 to 41,000 write-in votes to do that. McCotter received 43,303 votes when he ran unopposed in the comparable 2008 GOP primary.

Im working under the assumption that because weve never done one, its going to be the hardest [race] weve ever done, McCotter said. Were not only running against an opponent, were running against the ballot itself.

McCotter might have even more company in the race.  

State Sen. Mike Kowall (R) dropped his primary challenge against McCotter in January, throwing his support behind the Congressmans re-election. But in light of McCotters embarrassing signature snafu, Kowall said he has been encouraged to launch his own write-in campaign.

Ive been approached, Kowall said Tuesday. I was in parades all weekend, and I had people yelling at me, saying Where do I sign a write-in petition?

To prepare for the write-in effort, McCotter said he plans to reach out to recent winners of such contests. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) won a general election write-in campaign after losing her partys nomination last cycle.

But McCotters petition botch was more reminiscent of another write-in candidate from the past decade: former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio).

In 2006, Wilson failed to get the 50 signatures required to get on the Democratic primary ballot, falling only a few short of the requirement. House Democrats quickly rallied behind Wilson by sending staff and other resources to eastern Ohio to help him in the open-seat race. He won the nomination by a margin of more than 28,000 votes and went on to win in November.

Its too early to tell whether the NRCC will have a similar all-hands-on-deck response for McCotter. In some ways, the McCotter campaigns mistakes were more egregious, although the signature requirement is higher.

In Michigan, candidates need 1,000 valid signatures to qualify for the primary ballot for Congress. But the secretary of states office deemed only 244 signatures valid out of the 1,844 that McCotters campaign filed.

An initial review of McCotters petitions showed many duplicate signatures, according to a spokeswoman from the secretary of states office. The problems with his petitions were so serious that state Attorney General Bill Schuette launched a fraud investigation into the signatures.

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