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Judge denies state request to stay ruling extending filing deadline for August primary

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A federal judge has denied a requestby the state of Michigan to stay a ruling reducing the number of signatures needed to get on the August primary ballot.

Candidates unable to collect signatures because of the governor’s Stay Home ordersued and won more time for collect fewer signatures to qualify for the ballot.    The deadline had been this past Tuesday, April 21st.

But the Michigan Attorney General’s office asked the judgeto reconsiderthe ruling, since the Republican congressional candidate who brought the lawsuit had actually met the filing deadline.

Candidate Eric Esshakiwas short of the 1,000 signatures needed to qualify for the Republican primary in Michigan’s 11th congressional district. His campaign had collected roughly 700 signatures at the time Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued her Stay Home order on March 23rd. The order was intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Last Sunday, U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg ordered the state to extend the filing deadline to May 8th and reduce the number of valid signatures required to be filed by Esshaki and other candidates by half.

Esshaki credits publicity surrounding the lawsuit for his ability to collect more than the thousand signatures needed to get on the ballot. He submitted his signatures last Tuesday, the original deadline to file.

Citing Esshaki’s ability to collect enough signatures by the original filing deadline, attorneys for the state asked Judge Berg to stay his ruling while they the appeal to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court.    

However, Friday night, the judge dismissed the state’s emergency motion. 

In his ruling, Judge Berg said other candidates for other offices would be negatively affected by a stay.

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.