By VICTOR SKINNER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Green Party candidates are forging ahead with campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the North Carolina Senate following a recent federal court ruling that puts them back on the ballot.
“We won against the Democratic Party establishment’s scheme to sabotage our campaign for working people,” Matthew Hoh, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, posted to Twitter. “Now let’s win this race and make history!”
U.S. District Court Judge James C. Devers on Friday ordered the State Board of Elections to include Mr. Hoh and state Senate candidate Michael Tredeau on the November ballot, assuming they submit the proper paperwork by today.
The decision follows a 4-0 vote by the State Board of Elections on Aug. 1 to recognize the party as an official party in the state. The vote reversed the board’s June 30 decision, in which Democrats on the state board outvoted Republicans 3-2 to exclude the party from the midterm ballot over “questions” about signatures verified by county boards of elections, despite the party submitting 2,000 more signatures than required.
The June 30 vote stemmed from a campaign by the Elias Law Group, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and others to pressure those who signed the Green Party petitions to remove their support, alleging Mr. Hoh would siphon votes from the Democratic candidate, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.
Ms. Beasley is in a tight race with Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. Libertarian candidate Shannon Bray is also in the race. The only poll including all candidates, conducted on behalf of the John Locke Foundation in mid-June, showed Rep. Budd with 45% of likely voters, Ms. Beasley with 40%, Mr. Bray with 3% and Mr. Hoh with 1%.
The Green Party sued in federal court following the June 30 State Board of Elections vote, while the Elias Law Group and Democrats sued in state court when the board reversed course. In his decision on Friday, Judge Devers asserted federal jurisdiction in the case, though it remains unclear whether the state board will appeal the ruling.
“This important legal victory comes on the heels of unprecedented voter intimidation, harassment and fraud perpetrated by well financed partisan operatives to keep us off the ballot,” said Anthony Ndege, co-chair of the North Carolina Green Party. “There is a reason why unaffiliated voters have become the largest voting block in our state. People are dissatisfied with the non-solutions of the politics of fear and division. They are hungry for new ideas and solutions.”
Mr. Hoh told The Pulse he plans to spend the last 100 days of the campaign connecting with those voters.
“We plan on continuing to reach out to those most impacted and indeed, left behind, due to the policies of the Democratic and Republican parties,” Mr. Hoh said. “We look forward to showing up and reaching out to those fed up with the two-party system.”
In the meantime, the state board will continue its criminal investigation into “obvious signs of fraud” by contractors who collected signatures on behalf of the Green Party, State Board of Elections Chairman Damon Circosta said.
“Through this process, we have learned that this agency must review any future attempts at recognition very carefully to ensure petition campaigns abide by the law. We also plan to recommend legislative changes aimed at ensuring those who commit fraud in the signature collection process can be easily identified and brought to justice,” Mr. Circosta said in a statement following the board’s Aug. 1 decision. “Make no mistake: The criminal investigations into those individuals who perpetrated fraud on this process will continue, and we will refer those cases to prosecutors if warranted by evidence.”