West Michigan construction manager Brian VanDussen, a self-described lifelong Republican, leads an uphill drive to secure a state ballot spot for the tiny Michigan Patriot Party.
The 44-year-old Zeeland resident cleared a first formality three days ago when the four-member Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved his petition to gather signatures statewide to put the pro-Trump group on ballots in time for 2022 elections for governor, U.S. House members and state legislators.
VanDussen and allies now have 180 days -- about six months -- to submit 42,000 signatures from registered voters to the Secretary of State's office for validation. That total must include at least 100 from each of seven of the state’s 14 congressional districts to show geographic breadth.
The licensed builder, who joined a home building company in Holland in 2019 as a project manager, tells WXMI of Grand Rapids:
"The Republican party has left me. Why am I going to stick all these Band-Aids on something that's still going to be the same old, same old? ...
"We need somebody or a party that's going to uphold the Constitution and protect the Bill of Rights. That's what we feel is being eroded. ... We felt like we were robbed [in the 2020 presidential count], and so that pretty much broke the camel's back."
So far, the crusader doesn't seem to have a large following. His party's private Facebook page has 443 members and its four-month-old Twitter feed has 406 followers.
Its website proclaims: "We will no longer be led by those who do not listen to us, those who do not put the people of Americas' interests before their own, and those who have secured their positions through treasonous acts. The Patriot Party of Michigan will restore this state to a representative government in which the PEOPLE are in control and conservative morals and ethics are the core of it."
VanDussen hopes to recruit a handful of candidates for November 2022 local races, he tells the Fox network affiliate.
"That's our goal: to start small. If all this does is to put pressure on the Republicans to do what they were supposed to do and to abide by the Constitution and listen to the people, then I've done my job."
If the petition drive succeds, the newcomer would be the eighth party able to put candidates on Michigan ballots locally and statewide. It'd join the two largest, plus the Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, U.S. Taxpayers and Working Class parties.
Donald Trump two months ago backed off his earlier talk of forming a new party. "We have the Republican Party. It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before," he told a convention of conservatives Feb. 28 in Orlando, Fla.