The Secretary of State says Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, even though more than 200 of them were ruled invalid, including several of people who are dead.
The findings followed a challenge filed by the campaign of state Sen Eric Brakey, a Republican hoping to unseat independent U.S. Sen Angus King in the fall.
Brakey’s team found a number of irregularities, including the signatures people who have been dead for several years. After a hearing held last week, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap found 230 signatures on Linn’s petition were either invalid or forgeries, but he also confirmed that Linn still had 2,018 valid signatures. That’s 18 more than he needed to qualify.
In a statement, Brakey’s campaign did not rule out an appeal.
“The Secretary of State found numerous of acts of fraud and forgery on Max Linn’s petitions, and disqualified 230 signatures - nearly 10 percent of his total. We believe that if fraud is committed, all of the signatures from that campaign worker should be removed," Brakey said. "In this initial ruling, however, the State is allowing for signatures to remain from workers who forged signatures or had signatures from deceased voters, and then lied under oath. We are reviewing our options and will decide on an appeal shortly.”
If unchallenged, the decision sets up what’s expected to be a lively Republican primary. Linn’s team held a press event last week to taunt Brakey and accuse his team — without evidence — of planting the forged signatures. Linn also challenged Brakey to what he described as the “Be a man NRA debate challenge.” If Brakey agreed to participate in several debates, Linn said he would write a $25,000 check to the National Rifle Association.