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Federal judge mulling lawsuit over Michigan's August primary petition signatures rule

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A federal judge is promising to issue a ruling on a lawsuit challenging Michigan’s signature petition deadline for the August primary.

The deadline for candidates to submit petition signatures is April 21st.

But the governor’s Stay Home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic shut down normal petition circulation on March 23rd.

Eric Esshakiwants to run in the Republican primary in the 11th congressional district. He is among a group of Republicansvying to challenge Democratic incumbent congresswoman Haley Stevens.  But the governor’s Stay Home order interrupted his petition drive, leaving him far short of the signatures he needs.

During a rare motion hearing conducted by telephone,Esshaki asked the federal judge to compel the state to accept fewer signatures to qualify for the ballot.  

Attorneys for the state say next week’s deadline could be extended to May 8th, but that the required number of signatures should remain in place.   

During the hearing, Esshaki called the state’s position politically motivated, which drew a sharp rebuke from U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg. 

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.