Adam Hollier Could Be Left Off the Ballot for the 13th District Race Because of Invalid Signatures

Former state senator Adam Hollier could find himself running as a write-in candidate in his race to dethrone the first-term U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar for the 13th Congressional District seat this fall.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett’s election staff issued a report on Thursday, May 16, saying that 690 signatures collected by Hollier’s campaign were invalid for issues ranging from duplicate signatures to signatures from people not registered to vote. That left just 863 valid signatures — 137 signatures short of the 1,000 required for U.S. House candidates to qualify for the ballot.

“We are obviously disappointed in this decision — not only for Adam, but for the voters across the 13th District who deserve a real choice in who their next Congressperson will be,” Hollier’s attorney Melvin Butch Hollowell read from a statement. “We are also incredibly troubled by the fact that, according to the Clerk’s staff report, 296 of the voters Rep. Thanedar tried to disqualify are in fact lawful electors.”  

Thanedar challenged nearly 800 signatures that Hollier’s campaign team submitted in time for the filing deadline to get Hollier added to the ballot. More than 100 of the challenged signatures turned out to be valid, but Thanedar asked the Wayne County Clerk to disqualify Hollier from the August primary over what he said were forged and invalid signatures.

Hollier immediately conceded that 85 of his 1,552 submitted were invalid, but contended that although he did not inspect every one of the signatures, his team of campaigners and canvassers had followed proper protocol in securing the minimum number of required signatures.

What does this mean for Hollier’s bid for the 13th Congressional seat? For starters, the findings of the report don’t automatically disqualify Hollier from the ballot. While the report did recommend for Clerk Garrett to determine Hollier’s petition as insufficient, Garrett has the ultimate decision on whether to keep Hollier on the ballot.

Michigan election law requires the county clerk’s office to publish the staff report that reviews challenges to a candidate’s petition signatures at least two business days before the county clerk makes a final determination, so it’s expected for Garrett’s decision to come down soon. Even after Garrett’s decision is handed down, Hollier could still appeal to the Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office or have the decision taken to the Wayne County Circuit Court.

If Garrett does decide to dismiss Hollier from the ballot and Hollier loses the appeal or decides not to appeal, he still has the option of running as a write-in candidate. After all, Detroit isn’t foreign to the concept of writing in the candidate they want to hold office. See: Mayor Mike Duggan, 2013. Duggan faced similar challenges to Hollier, having been removed from the ballot over the issue of when he established residency within the city.

Thanedar and the other democratic candidate, Mary Waters, will have their names on the August primary ballot. The race in 2024 will look a lot different than the previous 13th Congressional District race in 2022.

During the race in 2022, nine candidates appeared on the primary ballot. In that election, voters delivered Thanedar the primary victory with 28.3% of the votes, followed by Hollier (23.5%) and Portia Roberson (16.9%).

This time around, Hollier is hopeful that the decisive Black vote isn’t split among so many candidates, and that the people will rally around him and his promises to put Detroiters first, especially since there are currently no Black elected officials in Washington D.C. representing the city of Detroit. And he’s got a lot of momentum in his campaign, already having garnered dozens of major endorsements. Despite his endorsement by dozens of Michigan elected officials, Thanedar has retained the fundraising advantage over Hollier, largely to his own wealth and an unconventional investment in Bitcoin.

Ultimately, whether or not Detroit will regain Black representation in the 13th Congressional District after this year’s primary on August 6 and the general on November 5, as always, is up to the people. And it could come down to a write-in process.

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