LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder isn't happy about it, but he called a special election Tuesday to fill the remaining months of U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter's term after the Republican congressman abruptly stepped down last week.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said the governor decided he was constitutionally required to hold the special election, even though the winner will serve less than two months in Congress. The election is estimated to cost local governments about $650,000.
"It is extremely disappointing that the district is forced to have a special election that is neither cost-effective nor efficient. Taxpayers deserve better," Calley said during a hastily called news conference. "But the requirement for the governor to call a special election in this situation is clear."
Calley made the announcement since Snyder is currently out of state.
Under the special election timeline, candidates wanting to serve out McCotter's current term will have to file at least 1,000 valid signatures by July 20 to get on the ballot for a special primary election on Sept. 5.
That election, Calley noted, could have been held in conjunction with the already set Aug. 7 primary if McCotter had resigned a few weeks ago, rather than last Friday. The regular August primary will determine the candidates who will compete to serve a full two-year term in the U.S. House that begins in January.
Then during the general elections on Nov. 6, voters in McCotter's current 11th District, which covers parts of Wayne and Oakland counties in the Detroit suburbs, will vote for a candidate to replace McCotter only through the end of 2012. Voters in a redrawn 11th District, whose boundaries were adjusted during redistricting, will elect someone to the full two-year term.
Some voters will see both contests on their Nov. 6 ballots.
McCotter announced his resignation Friday, capping a bizarre political downfall that started after the Livonia Republican's campaign failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to get him on the ballot for re-election. McCotter is cooperating with an investigation by the state attorney general's office about the signatures, many of which appeared to be copied from earlier years' petitions.
McCotter's failure to get on the ballot had already created a political upheaval.
It left Milford teacher and tea party supporter Kerry Bentivolio as the only Republican whose name will be printed on the ballot for the regular primary election Aug. 7. But many elected officials in Wayne and Oakland counties agreed to instead back former state Sen. Nancy Cassis of Novi as a write-in candidate, a move Bentivolio has criticized. The Rev. Drexel Morton, a Lutheran pastor from Canton Township, also apparently has launched a write-in campaign.
Democrats who once thought they had little chance to oust McCotter now hope that physician and Canton Township Trustee Syed Taj will win the regular Democratic primary and put up a credible fight for the seat in the general election. Also running on the Democratic ticket is Lyndon LaRouche supporter William Roberts of Wayne County's Redford Township.
Bentivolio said he also plans to run in the special election to fill the rest of McCotter's current term, but Taj has decided to stick to the race for the two-year term. Cassis could not be reached for her decision.
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