Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Graveline is trying to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for state attorney general. But he has a serious burden to overcome first: he has to collect 30,000 signatures from valid registered voters in Michigan by July 19 at 4 p.m. In addition, he has to have at least 100 signatures from half of the state’s 14 Congressional districts.
“I will say this upon entering the race, it’s become very clear to me the barrier keeping independents from running is almost prohibitively high compared with what the major parties have to do,” he said during an interview last night on Capital City Recap on WILS 1320 AM. “We’re working very hard at getting the 30,000 signatures, but we’re also taking a close look at the constitutionality of the statute under which it requires independents to collect 30,000 signatures.”
When asked if he was “hinting” at possibly challenging the law with that statement, he replied, “That is correct.” He said that the current law puts an extra burden on independent candidates.
However, if Graveline is successful, he will face Democrat Dana Nessel on the left and on the right Republican voters will nominate either State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, or Speaker of the Michigan House Tom Leonard.
Nessel beat out former U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles for the endorsement of the party in April by courting the more liberal wings of the party including marijuana advocates and Bernie Sanders supporters. In the GOP race, the candidates have been attacking each other over who will be more aggressive in addressing illegal immigration issues in Michigan.
Graveline said that extreme partisanship is what drove him to choose to run as an independent.
“The two political parties seem to be more intent on winning their political battles and going further to the left and further to the right,” he said. “And it just struck me that there aren’t a lot of people in the middle. Well, there are a lot of people in the middle, but not a lot of people talking to the people in the middle.”
Graveline entered the race with the endorsement of his former boss, former U.S. Attorney and Democrat Barbara McQuade who endorsed Patrick Miles over Nessel at the Democratic Endorsement Convention in April. Whispers in political circles in Lansing connected Graveline’s run with McQuade having encouraged her former employee to enter the race.
He said that’s untrue.
Other members of McQuade’s party have expressed concern about her endorsement of an independent candidate. Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon told the Detroit Free Press that McQuade’s choice was a “big mistake” because of its potential to take attention away from Nessel.
“Even if he performs a miracle and gets on the ballot, all he is going to do is potentially make it so a Republican like (House Speaker) Tom Leonard is going to win,” Dillon said.
Todd Heywood is the host of Capital City Recap on WILS 1320 AM in Lansing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. More information about the show and his state and local interviews online can be found online at 1320wils.com.