Campaign signs for Max Linn are posted Tuesday on the side of Maine Mall Road in South Portland, even though Linn has been disqualified from the June 12 Republican primary because he didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures. His continued campaigning doesn’t appear to violate any election laws, although it is likely to cause some confusion. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

AUGUSTA — Even though Maine’s highest court has told Max Linn that he isn’t a qualified candidate, the Bar Harbor businessman is still on the campaign trail.

The would-be U.S. Senate candidate is posting signs across Maine declaring that he is “Trump strong.”

The trouble is, a vote for Linn in the Republican primary on June 12 will not be counted.

Linn’s campaign confirmed Tuesday that it has been placing signs for the Bar Harbor resident and financial planner, who was disqualified by Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap after concerns were raised by the campaign of Linn’s primary opponent, state Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn. Among other things, Dunlap determined that Linn’s nomination petition included the signatures of voters who were no longer alive or voter signatures that were forged.

Dunlap’s decision was upheld on appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

“This is erratic and bizarre behavior from a candidate disqualified for voter fraud,” Brakey said in a prepared statement. “As the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, I am focused on the fight that matters: the fight for Maine this November.”

Linn’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment, but the candidate tweeted about the support he said he continues to get for his campaign.

“I am so glad that so many people have reached out in support of the “Trump Strong” signs. I am proud of my support of President Trump and being the only #TrumpStrong U.S. Senate candidate in Maine. #mepolitics #MAGA #Trump”

Kristen Muszynski, a spokeswoman for Dunlap, said voters will be notified at polling places, or by mailed notice for those who vote absentee, that Linn is not a valid candidate.

She said any ballots cast for candidates who have withdrawn or been disqualified, as Linn has, “will be counted as blanks.”

Linn’s campaigning does not appear to violate any of Maine’s election laws, and as long as his campaign signs are non-commercial in nature they can be posted temporarily along state highways as long as they are at least 30 feet apart, according to a spokesman from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Linn’s efforts also do not violate any state campaign finance or ethics laws, according to the Paul Lavin, the assistant director of the Maine Ethics Commission.

Brakey’s campaign first filed a complaint against Linn’s campaign in March, contending that Linn’s nominating petitions did not have enough valid voter signatures and included fake signatures from voters who had died years ago.

After a hearing at which both Brakey and Linn presented their cases, Dunlap invalidated 11 petitions and more than 200 signatures.

However, Dunlap also determined that Linn had enough valid voter signatures – 18 more than the required 2,000 – to remain on the June 12 primary ballot with Brakey.

Brakey’s campaign appealed Dunlap’s decision to the court on April 10, and it ordered Dunlap to consider additional evidence against Linn, which he did. Dunlap then determined that Linn did not have enough valid signatures and removed him from the ballot. Linn appealed the decision to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld Dunlap’s decision to disqualify Linn.

While Linn’s name will still appear on the ballot in June, he is not eligible to be elected by primary voters. The campaign is likely to cause some confusion, however, and the Maine Republican Party was warning voters Tuesday that Brakey would be the party’s nominee.

Both Brakey and Linn were hoping to take on incumbent U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, in the fall. Also in the November race is Portland Democrat Zak Ringelstein.

Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, said the party supports Linn’s First Amendment right to free speech, but said that Linn’s status as a candidate has not changed.

“Max Linn has the right to spend his money saying whatever he wishes, that is his choice,” Savage wrote in an email to the Press Herald that also appeared on the party’s Facebook page. “It does not change the status of the ballot according to the secretary of state and the courts. The Maine GOP recognizes that Sen. Eric Brakey is the Republican candidate who will challenge Angus King in this election.”

Linn’s campaign manager, Matt McDonald, confirmed that campaign volunteers were placing the roadside signs and that a Linn brochure had been mailed to some voters. McDonald said the campaign would issue a statement, but that had not done so by Tuesday night.

Three other candidates whose names will appear on the June 12 ballot have withdrawn from their elections, and any ballots cast for them will be counted as blanks, according to Dunlap’s office. They include Jonathan Fulford, a Democrat who had been running in the 2nd Congressional District primary, April D. Fournier, a Democrat in House District 43 and Rita Horsey, a Republican in House District 97.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: thisdog

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