Wayne County elections staff contend establishment Democratic candidate Adam Hollier is short 137 signatures to make the ballot against incumbent Congressman Shri Thanedar, an issue that could be decided by the Michigan Secretary of State who endorsed him.

A report from the Wayne County Clerk’s Office published on Thursday shows Hollier, a former state senator backed by the state’s Democratic establishment to unseat Thanedar, did not meet the 1,000 signature threshold to appear on the ballot for the 13th District’s Aug. 6 primary.

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The primary is considered the deciding election in MI-13, where the last elected Republican, Howard Coffin, left office in 1949.

Thanedar challenged nearly 800 Hollier petition signatures collected by Londell Thomas, who he said “appears to be a fraudulent circulator.” Among those signatures is that of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. According to the dates on the circulating petition, Benson signed on Feb 25, the day after Thomas’ dated signature. The petitions feature a warning that reads “Do not sign or date certificate until after circulating petition.”

The review by the Wayne County clerk’s staff validated 863 of 1,553 signatures submitted by Hollier, and deemed another 690 invalid for a variety of issues. Michigan law requires the publication of the staff report at least two business days before the county clerk makes a determination on the petition, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“While some signatures may be rehabilitated based on candidate Hollier’s response, there is insufficient evidence that he would prevail with enough signatures to overcome this challenge,” the report read.

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If Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett accepts her staff’s analysis and rejects Hollier’s petitions, which is typical, Hollier can appeal the decision to Benson, who endorsed her longtime friend in November.

“As a resident of Detroit for the last two decades I wanted to tell you how proud I am to endorse Adam Hollier to be the next member of Congress from my home district,” she said in the video endorsement. “I’ve known Adam for a long time and I’ve seen firsthand how much this city needs someone like him representing it in Congress.”

Benson described Hollier’s candidacy as “a once in a generation opportunity to send a battle-tested warrior to Congress who knows what families here face every single day and will never back down.”

Benson did not return an inquiry from The Midwesterner regarding Hollier’s petition fiasco, and Secretary of State spokeswoman Angela Benander dodged an inquiry from the Detroit Free Press about whether Benson has regrets about endorsing Hollier’s campaign.

Benander provided a statement that claims the Bureau of Elections has “a clear track record of applying the law fairly and meticulously when evaluating all allegations of any type of fraud in the signature gathering or petition process.”

The Free Press notes Hollier “could spare Benson by skipping a trip to Lansing and taking his case to Wayne County Circuit Court” if Garrett blocks him from the ballot.

How exactly Hollier might move is unclear.

“We are in the process of carefully reviewing our next steps and will have more to say shortly,” Melvin Butch Hollowell, his campaign attorney, told the Free Press.

Thanedar, meanwhile, is defending his challenge of Hollier’s petition signatures, which he described as a “basic requirement to qualify to be on the ballot.”

Thanedar previously pushed back on Hollier’s claim the challenge amounted to “a thinly-disguised attempt at voter suppression to prevent the voters from casting their ballot,” suggesting some of the clearly forged signatures “shows blatant incompetence,” according to the Free Press.

Hollier acknowledged to the Free Press’ editorial board that he did not collect or review the signatures before they were submitted, despite similar issues with other Detroit candidates that took that same route in the past.

That might make him the second candidate this year to be eliminated from the ballot due to Thomas’ handiwork.

Thomas – a Democratic operative who has worked for SEIU, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Barack Obama, the Michigan Democratic Party, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and other progressive campaigns – also bilked Charles Longstreet II out of nearly $16,000 to gather signatures for Longstreet’s bid for an open seat on the Wayne County Circuit Court.

“He turned in 120 pages of toilet paper,” Longstreet told the Free Press.