After barely missing the 15 percent mark to make it to the September primary election, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Republican Party for a series of alleged mistakes made when tallying the delegate votes.
Fisher, who received 14.765 percent of the votes at the state convention on March 22, sought legal representation against MassGOP on March 23, after hearing from a variety of people who contacted the campaign and shared their stories about what transpired on the convention floor. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday, Fisher told The Daily Free Press.
“It didn’t appear that there were any options left open to us other than legal and we thought we’d sleep on it and see what transpired,” he said. “We hate to do this, but that’s the only recourse that the MassGOP had left open to us.”
Four days after the convention, Fisher’s campaign sent out an email with the link to a video, referred to as “the smoking gun.” The video was a record of the convention’s roll call, where all delegate votes were read aloud.
According to the spreadsheet, which Fisher sent as an attachment to the email, Republican frontrunner Charlie Baker received 2,095 votes, Fisher received 376 votes and ten votes were blank. Without counting blank votes in the final percentages, Fisher received 15.22 percent of the votes. If blank votes are counted, he received 15.16 percent.
However, when MassGOP announced the final votes on the evening of the convention, Fisher had received 374 votes, and there were a total of 64 blank votes, keeping him short of the 15 percent vote he needed.
Fisher said MassGOP allowed him to challenge the votes in two of the 40 districts on the day of the convention, disallowing all blank votes from those districts. When the Fisher campaign asked to disallow the blank votes in the other 38 districts, their request was denied.
“We would have gotten it back to the original 10 blank votes if we had continued,” he said. “Why allow it in 2 districts and not in the other ones? It’s obvious they saw where this was headed, and they stopped, and I hope the judge will side with us on that.”
Kirsten Hughes, chairman of MassGOP, sent an email to the state’s committee members on Tuesday to tell them that she has spoken to several attorneys about the issues regarding the convention and has begun to create a legal defense fund for the protection of the party and its interests.
“While my office focuses on resolving this issue in a manner consistent with the law and the rules of the Party, we must also not take our eyes off the important work of electing Republicans at every level of state and federal government,” she said. “Many of you have labored far longer than I on behalf of Republican candidates through many election cycles, and you know as well as I do that we must not allow distractions to steer us off course.”
In a statement about Fisher’s decision to file the lawsuit, Baker said he understands the disappointment and frustration that results from coming up short in an election.
“I respect Mark’s decision to pursue this course of action, and am confident the Party will work to ensure the process was fair and transparent,” he said. “Should a primary be determined to be the fair resolution, I will welcome it and work hard to win the nomination and then carry my message of making Massachusetts great into the general election.”
Fisher said MassGOP’s legal team contacted his legal team and asked if they would settle for anything short of being on the ballot, but Fisher refused. Until a decision is reached on the lawsuit in court, Fisher plans to continue campaigning.
“We’re assuming we have the 15 percent,” he said. “The video shows that. The whole reason I started the campaign was to get into the primary, then win that, and get into the general. That’s the only thing that I’m interested in.”