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Watch Michigan Republican governor debate from Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island
Four GOP candidates go head-to-head at gubernatorial debate. (Shutterstock)

Update: Republicans: More guns — not more laws — will keep Michigan schools safe

Four Republicans campaigning for governor will take part in a debate at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference.

The debate features media personality Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores, chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan, businessman Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township, and pastor Ralph Rebandt of Farmington Hills. 

All are seeking the Republican nomination to take on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, in the November general election. The remaining Republican candidate on the ballot, activist Ryan Kelley, did not attend the conference.

Five Republican candidates, including presumed frontrunners James Craig and Perry Johnson, were removed from the Aug. 2 primary after state officials concluded they submitted fraudulent signatures to qualify for election. 

The Michigan Bureau of Elections, in a staff report released last week, said 36 circulators forged 68,000 signatures total for numerous candidates statewide, including down-ballot races.

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Related: James Craig loses ballot access suit; Johnson appeals to Michigan Supreme Court

The disqualified candidates say they were defrauded by unscrupulous signature gatherers.

Craig’s suit to get on the ballot was rejected by a judge on Thursday. He said he will appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, a Michigan Court of Appeals issued a similar ruling denying Johnson and Michael Markey, a Grand Haven financial adviser, a spot on the ballot.

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