The field in Maine’s U.S. Senate race got bigger this week with the addition of independent Max Linn.

Max Linn File photo

The secretary of state’s office verified that Linn, a Bar Harbor businessman, had submitted more than 4,600 signatures to claim a spot on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Linn is the second independent to enter the race to oust U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a four-term Republican who will also face the winner of the July 14 Democratic primary.

Another independent, Tiffany Bond of Portland, said Thursday she is filing suit to ask a court to rule that the requirement to get at least 4,000 notarized signatures from voters is too onerous given the public health emergency that has stifled political campaigning since mid-March.

She said she has about 2,700 signatures gathered but isn’t sure she can get the rest without risking the spread of COVID-19 among her supporters and those asked to sign.

A number of states have lowered the number of signatures needed in response to the pandemic that hit in mid-March, but Maine has not. It did extend the deadline by a month when it postponed the primary by five weeks.

Linn gathered his signatures well before the pandemic and submitted them in April. The other independent in the race, Lisa Savage, also collected signatures weeks before COVID-19 emerged as a serious problem. She initially planned to run as a Maine Green Independent Party candidate, but switched to independent in the face of challenging ballot access requirements for Greens.

Linn, who proved a controversial candidate from the start, fell short in a bid to participate in the 2018 Republican primary for U.S. Senate when his opponent discovered some fraudulent signatures on his petition. Enough were thrown out to put his final tally below the mandatory total to earn a ballot spot.

Tiffany Bond

Bond said she has tried to get state officials to make it easier for independents to get on the ballot this year. But they’ve spurned her requests.

They tell her, she said, that she could go door-to-door and get what she needs.

“In a pandemic? Are you serious?” she asked. “That doesn’t seem very safe.”

What the state’s decisions have meant, Bond said, is that she “can’t participate in politics” despite getting more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot of one of the major parties, which only need 2,000 people to put their name on the paperwork. She said it’s unfair to begin with that independents need more signatures than party candidates.

Beyond that, she said, independents usually get twice as much time to gather signatures but the pandemic essentially gave all candidates, regardless of affiliation, the same amount of time this year.

“I’m a real candidate,” Bond said, pointing out that she got almost 6% of the first-round vote in the 2nd Congressional District race in 2018.

Telling her to get signatures when public gatherings are barred and stores closed or unwilling to have a candidate outside isn’t realistic, Bond said.

“I have tried everything to get these signatures,” she said, but it’s impossible. And even when she does have some, she said, the town offices where they need to be reviewed are often shut down or operating sporadically to add another layer of complication.

Bond said the state basically told her “the pandemic is my responsibility.”

She’s counting on a judge to rule otherwise.

Democrats are choosing their standard bearer on July 14 from among Sara Gideon of Freeport, Bre Kidman of Saco and Betsy Sweet of Hallowell.

The Maine Senate race is among the most closely watched in the country with Collins among the most vulnerable incumbents. In a ranked-choice vote election, it is possible the second and third choice of voters could wind up determining the outcome.


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