May 14, 2024 - News

Signature challenge threatens Hollier's campaign for Congress

Adam Hollier announces his candidacy on October 17 in Detroit.

Former state Rep. Adam Hollier announces his candidacy Oct. 17 in Detroit. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar doesn't believe former state Sen. Adam Hollier, who's challenging his seat in Congress, has the 1,000 valid signatures required to make the ballot in November.

Driving the news: He's challenging more than 700 signatures submitted by Hollier, whose fate is expected to be decided by the Wayne County Election Commission in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: The path was cleared for Hollier to challenge Thanedar head-to-head after local Democrats couldn't consolidate support around one Black primary candidate in 2022.

Catch up quick: Thanedar beat Hollier and eight other Black candidates in Detroit's 13th Congressional District Democratic primary in 2022, but he hasn't won the support of the area's political establishment since taking office. Thanedar's election marked the end of Detroit's 70-year streak of Black representation in Congress.

  • Prominent Democrats including Wayne County Executive Warren Evans have thrown their support behind Hollier, who is from Detroit.

State of play: Attorneys for Hollier wrote to a Wayne County court last week accusing Thanedar's campaign of a "thinly disguised attempt at voter suppression."

What they're saying: "Some issues have been brought to our attention related to a small number of the nomination signatures that were collected on behalf of our campaign," Hollier said in a statement to Axios.

  • "We have retained legal counsel to look into the matter and are confident that a significant number of the challenges filed against our signatures are erroneous."
Some signatures submitted by Hollier have similar handwriting. Photo provided by Rep. Shri Thanedar
Some signatures submitted by Hollier appear to have similar handwriting. Photo provided by Rep. Shri Thanedar

The other side: "A 10-year-old could flip through the sheets and see they were signed by the same person. How can he submit that without looking at it?" Thanedar said in an interview with Axios on Monday.

  • "There's not a lot asked to be on the ballot — 1,000 valid signatures is not a tall order. If a candidate cannot competently perform a simple task of collecting signatures, it makes you wonder how he's going to solve tough problems facing our district."

Flashback: Fraudulent petition signatures have been an issue that has shaped races in Michigan since the pandemic.

Between the lines: Once the Wayne County Election Commission determines whether Hollier can appear on the ballot, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers will receive Wayne County's report and can hear appeals.

  • Thanedar has expressed concern with the fact that board of canvassers chair Mary Ellen Gurewitz, as well as Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, signed Hollier's petition.
  • It's not illegal, but given the circumstances surrounding Hollier's challenge, Thanedar says it could create a potential conflict of interest.
  • Thanedar, who's self-funding his campaign, reported more than $2.6 million cash on hand last year compared with Hollier's more than $400,000, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed this year.
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