MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — Two conservative ex-lawmakers in Michigan who had an extramarital affair and attempted to conceal it will both run for their old seats, though it is not clear whether the House would let them take office if they win.
Todd Courser resigned last week amid debate over whether to expel him and fellow tea party Republican Cindy Gamrat. The Republican filed before Friday’s deadline along with 10 other Republicans and three Democrats, and a Facebook post said his wife supports the move.
“She said, ‘Yes, you absolutely should run. The voters didn’t have a chance to decide. The decision was taken from them. The people never had an opportunity to hear about all the good representation you have given them in both your Conservative voting record and your Conservative legislation,'” he wrote on his page.
The Associated Press left a message for Courser, of Lapeer.
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Gamrat was expelled, and she filed Thursday to also run for her old seat — joining seven other Republicans and one Democrat.
The special primary will be Nov. 3 in the Republican-heavy districts. The special general election will be held March 8.
Rep. Kurt Heise, a Plymouth Township Republican who sat on a committee that recommended both be expelled, said they are “narcissistic” and their decisions to run are “a further mockery of the Legislature, the democratic process and the electorate.”
“These two people need to get on with their lives,” he said in an interview while attending a GOP conference on Mackinac Island. “This is unhealthy for both them as individuals and for our political process.”
Heise questioned whether Gamrat is permitted to run again, given that her expulsion is for the remainder of the two-year term. He said a candidate in the 80th House District should sue.
Secretary of state spokesman Fred Woodhams said the Bureau of Elections is reviewing whether Gamrat can run “due to new questions that people have raised.”
Courser sent a hoax email to GOP activists and others in May that claimed he had been caught with a male prostitute, and called Courser a “bi-sexual porn addicted sex deviant” and “gun toting Bible thumping … freak” and Gamrat a “tramp.” The intent was to make his affair with Gamrat less believable if exposed by an anonymous blackmailer.
Both sought leniency, with Gamrat saying in part that she did not know the email’s content, only to become the fourth lawmaker ever expelled at the end of a marathon session that ended before sunrise Sept. 11.
“I just want to go home and be with my family,” Gamrat, of Plainwell, said later at her lawyer’s office. She told the AP on Thursday, however, that the “voters should decide” if she is qualified for office.
Lawmakers have asked state police and the attorney general to investigate further. A House Business Office report uncovered dishonesty, misconduct and a misuse of public resources by the pair of self-described social conservatives, but cited no specific crimes except possible campaign-finance law abuses.
If Courser or Gamrat is elected, Heise said, the House would have the authority to not seat them.
“That’s a scenario that I hope never plays out and we don’t have to go there,” he said.
Follow David Eggert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00