A federal judge ruled Friday that the North Carolina Green Party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate must be placed on the November ballot, despite Democrats’ repeated attempts to prevent the Progressive Party from spoiling one of their best shots in turning over a seat in the narrowly divided room.
U.S. District Judge James Deaver III’s order prohibits the state election board from imposing a July 1 nomination deadline to keep the Green Party’s Senate candidate, Matthew Hoh, away from the North Carolina ballot.
Although the Green Party filed a petition earlier this year to qualify as a new political party, it was initially dropped by the Election Board amid an ongoing investigation into the party’s signature collection process, causing the now-accredited Green Party to fall behind the deadline.
DeVere canceled a federal court hearing that had been scheduled for Monday and gave Huh until Wednesday to file his papers before the deadline for printing of board ballots on August 12. But Huh said he feared a “outrageous new lawsuit” in state court could interfere with Friday’s positive ruling in federal court.
North Carolina Democrats, represented by the powerful Washington-based Elias Law group, asked the state court on Wednesday to overturn the board’s unanimous vote to certify the Greens. The lawsuit brought by the Democrats represents their latest attempt to vaccinate the ballot after they admitted pressing signatories to withdraw their names from the Green Party petition.
Democrats have warned that Huh’s appearance on the ballot could split progressive voters and lead to a GOP victory in the upcoming Senate race between Democrat Sherry Beasley and Republican Representative Ted Budd, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
The federal judge’s ruling acknowledged that a parallel lawsuit had been filed, but ordered the board to put Huh on the ballot because federal law takes precedence over state law, under the sovereignty clause of the United States Constitution. Dever recommended that the board follow his instructions despite the case in Wake County Superior Court, writing that the federal court had jurisdiction over “this federal constitutional claim.”
“This important legal victory comes on the heels of unprecedented intimidation, harassment and voter fraud, perpetrated by well-funded partisan activists to keep us out of the polls,” said Tony Ndigi, co-chair of the North Carolina Greens.
Schoenbaum is a member of the Associated Press/Report for the America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that puts journalists in local newsrooms to report confidential issues. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/H_Schoenbaum.