RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s Green Party US Senate candidate must be placed on November’s ballot, a federal judge ruled Friday, despite repeated efforts by Democrats to prevent the progressive party from giving it one of their best chances messes up when turning a chair in the closely spaced room.
U.S. District Judge James Dever III’s order bans the state election council from enforcing a July 1 nomination deadline to keep Green Party Senate candidate Matthew Hoh from the vote in North Carolina .
Although the Green Party filed a petition earlier this year to qualify as a new political party, the election board has shot it in the first place amid an ongoing investigation into the party’s signature collection process, which led to the now certified Green Party miss a deadline.
Dever canceled a federal court hearing scheduled for Monday and gave Hoh until Wednesday to file his paperwork before the August 12 ballot printing deadline. But Hoh said he is concerned that an “outrageous new lawsuit” in state court could disrupt Friday’s favorable ruling in federal court.
North Carolina Democrats, represented by Washington’s powerful Elias Law Group, asked a state court on Wednesday to: Undo the unanimous vote of the board of directors to certify the Green Party. Democrats’ lawsuit marks their latest attempt to barricade the vote after acknowledging it pressure signatories to withdraw their names from the Green Party petition.
Democrats have warned that Hoh’s appearance on the ballot could divide progressive voters and lead to a GOP victory in the close Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Representative Tedd Budd, who was backed by former President Donald Trump.
The federal judge’s ruling acknowledged that parallel lawsuits had been filed, but instructed the council to put Hoh on the ballot, as federal law takes precedence over state law, under the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause. Dever advised the board to follow its instructions despite the case in Wake County Superior Court, writing that the federal court has jurisdiction over “this federal constitutional claim.”
“This major legal victory comes on the heels of unprecedented intimidation, intimidation and voter fraud perpetrated by well-funded partisan agents to keep us from voting,” North Carolina Green Party co-chair Tony Ndege said Friday.
Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national, not-for-profit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on classified issues. Follow her on Twitter on twitter.com/H_Schoenbaum.