LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan announced Saturday that he would not seek a sixth term through a write-in campaign after he failed to get enough signatures to get on the ballot.
McCotter ran a little-noticed Republican presidential campaign last year before asking voters to re-elect him to his Detroit-area congressional seat. He surprised everyone late last month when he announced the Michigan secretary of state's office had determined he didn't have the 1,000 valid signatures needed to get on the Aug. 7 primary ballot, even though 2,000 signatures were turned in.
A spokesman for the secretary of state has said only a couple hundred signatures appeared valid and many seemed to be copies.
McCotter initially said he would conduct a write-in campaign, while seeking an investigation into happened with his petitions. But Saturday, he issued a statement saying he could not cooperate with the investigation, fulfill his current duties and run a write-in campaign, so he was ending his candidacy.
"One can't clean up a mess multitasking," he said. "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."
He added that his decision was final "regardless of how swiftly the investigation is concluded."
With McCotter out of the race, two Republicans are running. Kerry Bentivolio, a Vietnam War veteran, teacher and beekeeper from Milford, is the only one on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. Former state Sen. Loren Bennett of Canton Township announced Friday he would run as a write-in candidate.
Bennett said Saturday that he thought his entry into the race was a reality check for McCotter that may have encouraged him to get out.
"I guess he just felt he could not win, and there was no point in trying," Bennett said.
While write-in campaigns are expensive because candidates have to educate voters on how to cast a write-in ballot, Bennett said he didn't think the cost would be exorbitant. He said his goal would be gathering 1,000 volunteers who could go door to door to advocate for him and explain how write-in votes are done.
"It's a face to face commitment," he said, adding that he has "every intention of going full speed ahead. What (McCotter) does is not going to affect me in any shape or form."
Bentivolio's campaign spokesman, Bob Dindoffer, expressed appreciation for McCotter's service "to the district, state and country."
"We're moving forward with our positive campaign focusing on government accountability," he said.
Other Republicans considered getting into the race last year when it appeared McCotter, 46, might focus on his long-shot presidential bid rather than run for re-election. But they decided not to challenge the guitar-playing congressman from Livonia once he made it clear he was running.
Two Wayne County residents, William Roberts of Redford Township and Oakwood Hospital chief of medicine Taj Syed of Canton Township, have filed to run in the Democratic primary.