Politics & Government
6:25 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

In Detroit, a front-runner for mayor self-destructs

Hear the full story above.

Mike Duggan has dropped out of the race for Detroit mayor, a day after the Michigan Court of Appeals removed him from the ballot.

A stocky white guy from Livonia, Duggan moved his family to Detroit last year so he  could run.

But now, he'll likely be remembered as the guy who couldn't wait just two weeks.

"I am the first candidate I've ever heard of to be knocked off the ballot for filing petitions too  early," he said. 

"I am the first candidate I've ever heard of to be knocked off the ballot for filing petitions too early."

Duggan filed his campaign signatures on April 2.

But he was two weeks shy of a very important date: April 16. That's the day he would have been an official Detroit resident for one full year.

That one-year minimum is a requirement for candidates, according to the city's charter.

But the city clerk told Duggan it was fine to file early. And he'd been getting form letters from the election commission asking candidates to turn in petitions as early as possible.

Still, two courts have now ruled against letting Duggan on the ballot.

And he admits the screw-up is ultimately his fault ... sort of:

"The courts in this state don't give sufficient weight to voters being allowed to decide things for themselves," Duggan said at today's press conference to announce he would drop his mayoral bid. "But I knew those things. And I only blame myself. I should have not given them any chance."

Duggan's supporters - and even the Detroit Free Press Editorial board - say this was a bad move on the courts' part.

They say it's far more important to give voters as much choice as possible, rather than kick Duggan out of the race on a technicality.

"Elections shouldn't be decided in the court room,” says Jonathan Kinloch, who backed Duggan for mayor.

“If there are any issues that are technical or minor, that should have been decided by the voters."

But critics say Duggan just plain blew it.

"If you can't get something as simple as this done correctly, you don't deserve a chance to be mayor."

"The one big ace that he had to play supposedly was he was a Mr. Fix-it who could come into Detroit and get the job done," said Inside Michigan Politics editor Bill Ballenger. "And this incident makes it look like, hey buster, if you can't get something as simple as this done correctly, you don't deserve a chance to be mayor."   

But with an emergency manager running the city, does it even matter who's mayor?

"Not until Kevyn Orr's gone,” said Duggan. "I believed I could get the emergency manager out earlier. And I believe they're gonna have a hard time getting the emergency manager out. Had I been there, I believe I could have moved the emergency manager out earlier. But maybe I'll be wrong, and maybe it'll be fine."

With Duggan gone, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon is the front-runner.

Duggan says he’ll eventually decide which candidate to endorse.