Michigan Officials Try to Speed Up Certification in Deadlocked GOP Race

Posted August 7, 2010 at 4:03pm

The canvassing process in Michigan’s 1st district, where there is a recount needed to sort out the winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary, may start moving faster.

After the initial unofficial vote count, surgeon Dan Benishek was just one vote ahead of state Sen. Jason Allen in the northern Michigan district currently represented by retiring Rep. Bart Stupak (D). The count: 27,091 to 27,090. The winner will face state Rep. Gary McDowell (D) in what is expected to be a very competitive race in November.

Here’s what happens next.

Michigan law gives county election boards 14 days to certify results — in this case that’s an Aug. 17 deadline.

Because this Upper Peninsula district is so large and because of the likelihood of a recount, the state elections director has asked counties whether they could finish the certifications for the House race by the end of next week, said Michigan Department of State spokesman Ken Silfven. If they can, the state board would also review results sooner.

Once the state board reviews what the counties turn in, the campaigns will have 48 hours to request a recount.

The opposing campaign will have a chance to object and make arguments at a hearing. If each step takes the maximum amount of time, the recount process would be completed Sept. 20.

In the meantime, both Republican campaigns operate in a sort of money limbo. They can’t use general election funds before becoming the nominee and are limited to working out of a special account reserved for the recount.

The Republican campaigns appear to share a desire for a speedy disposition. And both campaigns are behaving as though they’ll be in the race against McDowell.

“It’s a primary race,” Allen campaign manager Jeremy Hendges said. “We want to make sure that whether it’s us or the opponent that there’s ample time to campaign for the general election in the fall.”

A Benishek adviser said he spent the morning after the election in surgery but is planning to campaign around the district over the weekend.

“As far as we’re concerned, Dan is the nominee and is going to campaign as such and begin focusing on the general election,” Katie Gage said.

The Democrat’s campaign, meanwhile, said he has also moved forward as planned.

“The general election started on Wednesday, regardless of what happened in the [GOP] primary,” McDowell campaign manager Daniel Krupnick said.