Five Michigan House Democrats, one Republican face recall threats
- Five House Democrats and one Republican have had recall petitions filed against them
- Recalls target Democratic for votes on gun reform, hate crimes and a Republican’s vote to confirm House speaker
- Recall organizers would have to collect thousands of in-district signatures in 60 days for the efforts to make the ballot
Five first-term House Democrats and one Republican are facing recall efforts over votes they’ve taken on gun reform, hate crimes and confirming legislative leadership.
House Democrats on Monday announced five lawmakers — Reps. Betsy Coffia of Traverse City, Sharon MacDonell of Troy, Jennifer Conlin of Ann Arbor, Reggie Miller of Van Buren Township and Jaime Churches of Wyandotte — had recalls filed against them.
Later Monday, Republican Rep. Cam Cavitt of Cheboygan confirmed he also received a recall petition for supporting a procedural vote to name Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit, as House speaker.
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Recall petitions targeting Democrats focus on their support of hot-button issues: Coffia and MacDonell for “red flag” gun legislation signed this spring by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; Conlin, Miller and Churches for the expansion of the state hate crimes law to include LGBTQ residents.
It’s unclear how or whether the recalls are directly connected, although all six share similarities. The petitions were filed by local Republican activists or past candidates for office in the sitting lawmakers’ districts.
On Aug. 1, Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers will meet to determine whether the petitions can proceed — before organizers can begin collecting signatures, the board must review whether the recall language is clear, factual and addresses conduct that occurred while the lawmakers were in office.
In a statement, Tate said House Democrats are taking the recall threats seriously and will “fully support and defend those targeted.”
“Michigan’s recall law is an important option available to citizens when it is necessary to hold elected officials accountable for wrongdoing,” he said. “The law is not a tool to overturn the will of the majority of voters.”
If even one of those recalls makes it to the ballot, it could jeopardize Democrats’ newly won control of the House.
Several lawmakers on the list are serving in competitive districts; Coffia won her election by less than 1,000 votes. A public official facing recall would need to fend off challenges from opposing political parties at the next scheduled election, and the winner would serve out the rest of the term.
But Michigan recall rules make it hard to oust a sitting lawmaker. To get the recall efforts on local ballots, organizers would have to collect thousands of signatures in 60 days — enough to match or exceed the 25 percent of total votes for governor in each district in the 2022 election.
Grand Blanc Republican Paul Scott was the last lawmaker to be successfully recalled in 2011.
Opponents of former Rep. Larry Inman, a Grand Traverse County Republican, got the closest to getting a recall on the ballot since the process was changed significantly in 2012 — organizers of that effort collected the signatures needed, but printing errors on signature sheets ultimately doomed the effort.
Barb Walling, who filed the recall petition against Coffia, told Bridge Michigan she won’t be making the same mistake as organizers of the recall as Inman.
She said she is committed to seeing Coffia’s recall through to the ballot, because “nobody has a right” to infringe upon the Second Amendment.
“This is a very important issue,” Walling said. “We really do need to get it on the ballot and people need to get out and vote.”
In a statement, Coffia said she respects the recall process as a tool to hold politicians accountable, but she said it shouldn’t be used “to disenfranchise thousands of voters in the 103rd District simply because of a policy disagreement.”
Churches, the Wyandotte Democrat, suggested the recall petitions were a “coordinated attack” against Democratic women, adding that it’s a “distraction from the real issues facing Michigan families and the progress Democrats are making in Michigan.”
Cavitt, the only Republican so far facing a possible recall, called the efforts “partisan tactics aimed at serving the interests of one political faction rather than addressing the critical priorities of my district and our state.”
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