Detroit’s Top Black Candidate For Congress Off Primary Ballot For Invalid Signatures

Detroit’s Top Black Candidate For Congress Off Primary Ballot For Invalid Signatures

Let's hope he appeals this ruling.....

Detroit’s top Black Democrat won’t make an appearance on the August 2024 primary ballot after a county clerk claimed he didn’t submit enough valid signatures.

Former state Sen. Adam Hollier was told by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett’s office on May 21 that he will be left off the ballot in an attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar. The announcement could make it the second straight year that the Motor City will be without Black representation in Congress.

As a city with a nearly 80% Black population, Detroit had some form of Black representation in Congress for almost 70 years until 2023.

Hollier submitted 1,550 signatures in order to meet ballot requirement—550 signatures over the needed 1,000. Thanedar challenged the validity of the signatures, and Wayne County election staff claimed almost half of the signatures were invalid.

“… I am adopting the staff’s recommendation and hereby determine the nominating petitions are insufficient in number to allow candidate Adam Hollier’s name to appear on the August 6, 2024, primary election ballot for the office of U.S. Representative in Congress-13th District,” Garrett wrote in a letter to Thanedar, according to Detroit News. 

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office appealed the ruling as the decision is a major plus for Thanedar’s reelection campaign. Hollier drew support from faith leaders and high-profile Michigan Democrats, including Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Even leaders from the Congressional Black Caucus—in a rare move—endorsed Hollier over Thanedar.

“There’s some heartburn amongst Black Detroiters that they don’t have representation in Congress but also amongst Democrats in general,” said Democratic strategist Adrian Hemond. “If you want to be able to keep ginning up Black Detroiters to vote, having some representation in the Congress is important.”

This is not the first time a Michigan candidate has faced signature fraud claims. In 2022, five Republicans on the gubernatorial ticket were kept off the ballot after invalid signatures were found on their nominating petitions. A number of people were charged with forgery and other crimes related to the fake petition signatures. However, none of the candidates were personally accused of knowingly submitting fraudulent petitions.

“I am extremely disappointed with the news from the Wayne County clerk following her thorough and professional review of our petitions―not for myself, but for the voters across the 13th District who deserve a real choice in who their next Congressperson will be,” Hollier said in a statement..

“While I put my trust in someone who let us down in the collection of signatures, ultimately, the leadership of the campaign falls on me, and I must hold myself to a higher standard,” Hollier added. It is also clear that our state’s system of ballot access and petition collection is sorely in need of reform—so that future campaigns, as well as the voters of this state, do not fall victim to fraud.”

With the popular candidate off the primary ballot, support could shift to former state House member Mary Waters. As she has served on the Detroit City Council since 2021, Waters is trailing with a lack of financial support. She had raised less than $10,000 by the end of March 2024. Attorney Shakira Lynn Hawkins is also in the running for the Democratic primary.

Hollier’s campaign can appeal Garrett’s final decision to the office of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson or file with the Wayne County Circuit Court in an effort to overturn it.