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Attorney: Keeping Max Linn off ballot would ‘totally destroy’ Maine nominating process

Christopher Cousins | BDN
Christopher Cousins | BDN
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn of Bar Harbor attends a hearing regarding alleged problems with some signatures on his ballot access petitions in Augusta. March 29, 2018.

AUGUSTA, Maine — An attorney for disqualified Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn on Monday asked Maine’s high court to put him back on the June primary ballot, saying not doing so could “totally destroy” the state’s nominating process.

Linn, a retired financial planner from Bar Harbor, was removed from the ballot in April after a judge agreed with his primary opponent, state Sen. Eric Brakey, and Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap that “fraud” tainted signatures that Linn submitted to get on the ballot.

It was the latest move in a drawn-out series of challenges to Linn’s ballot status. In Maine, statewide candidates must collect 2,000 signatures from registered party voters, and by April, Linn was twice allowed on the ballot by Dunlap despite having 230 signatures invalidated.

But Dunlap knocked off 28 more signatures and Maine Superior Court Justice William Stokes sided with Brakey’s campaign after a second April hearing before the secretary of state’s office on his petitions. Linn’s campaign agreed that dozens of nominating signatures were fraudulent and purportedly came from people who died or said that they hadn’t signed for Linn.

But Linn appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court last week. His attorney, Steven Juskewitch, told the high court in Monday arguments that evidence taken in that second hearing was overbroad and that the process was insufficient under laws governing agency hearings.

Juskewitch told the court that their decision in the case could “totally destroy” the nominating process by allowing long appeals of the secretary of state’s decisions or reaffirm it by holding appeals to a tighter timeframe.

Assistant Maine Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner, who is representing Dunlap, said his obligation was to “ensure an accurate decision,” and Colton Gross, an attorney for Brakey’s campaign, said on Monday that Stokes’ decision was proper.

For now, Brakey of Auburn and Democrat Zak Ringelstein of Portland are alone on their respective primary ballots for the nomination to run against U.S. Sen. Angus King, a first-term senator and former two-term governor who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate.

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