The Green Party’s U.S. Senate nominee from North Carolina must be on the November ballot, a federal judge ruled on Friday, despite repeated attempts by Democrats to stop the Progressive Party from wasting one of their best shots to overthrow a seat in the tightly divided room.
U.S. District Judge James Dever III’s order bars the state Board of Elections from enforcing a July 1 nomination deadline to prevent Green Party Senate candidate Matthew Hoh from not voting in North Carolina.
Although the Green Party presented a petition earlier this year to be branded as a new political party, the election committee initially rejected it as part of an ongoing investigation into the party’s signature collection process, which caused the now-certified Green Party to miss the deadline.
Dever canceled a federal court hearing scheduled for Monday and gave Hoh until Wednesday to submit his paperwork before the Aug. 12 ballot printing deadline. But Hoh said he fears an “outrageous retrial” in state court will interfere with Friday’s favorable ruling in federal court.
North Carolina Democrats, represented by the powerful Washington-based Elias Law Group, asked a state court on Wednesday to overturn the council’s unanimous vote certifying the Green Party. The Democrats’ lawsuit marks their latest attempt to barricade the ballot after they admitted pressuring signatories to remove 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 tight Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Representative Tedd Budd, which was endorsed by the former President Donald Trump.
The federal judge’s ruling acknowledged that parallel litigation had been filed, but ordered the council to place Hoh on the ballot since federal law trumps state law, per the supremacy clause of the American Constitution. Dever recommended that the council follow his instructions despite the case in Wake County Superior Court, writing that the federal court has jurisdiction over “this federal constitutional claim.”
“This important legal victory follows unprecedented voter intimidation, harassment and fraud perpetrated by well-funded partisan operatives to stop us from voting,” North Carolina Green Party Co-Chair Tony Ndege said Friday. .
Schoenbaum is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/H_Schoenbaum.
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