HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — First Congressional Candidate Democrat Muad Hrezi challenged the state in civil court Wednesday.
Hrezi believes he should be granted more time to collect signatures for an August primary against First District Democratic Incumbent Congressman John Larson.
Hrezi’s campaign spent $20,000 to collect signatures from registered Democrats in the First Congressional District.
The Secretary of the State’s office says he did not reach the legal threshold.
Hrezi says it’s the state’s fault. He is asking for more time.
The Attorney General and a lawyer for Congressman Larson are also opposing Hrezi’s court challenge.
“We’re trying to break a streak, which is that no candidate has ever been able to primary a sitting member of the U.S. House here in Connecticut,” Hrezi said.
Hrezi‘s campaign alleges the Secretary of the State’s office delayed his process to get on the ballot.
By law, candidates are allowed 42 days to collect signatures. Hrezi got 40.
Hrezi testified he went to the Secretary of the State’s office to pick up forms. The forms were not ready.
Hrezi asked they be e-mailed to him and says he wasn’t offered the opportunity to wait.
“What I was offered is either email or mail. And so I, I selected the email option, wrote down my email on the paper, waited for two days.”
After two days, Hrezi called to check in and the forms were delivered via e-mail within minutes. Clerks in the Secretary of the State’s office testified they processed the paperwork on day one and immediately put them in the U.S. mail.
They “couldn’t recall” an email request.
The East and South Windsor petitions were not validated by town officials because they came in after the statutory deadline.
The campaign says a tight labor market and COVID were factors.
“We had three people get COVID in the last 10 days. So that completely throws a wrench in your process. Especially when those are some of your best signature gatherers, and then you don’t have enough time to train new people,” Hrezi said.
The state estimates the 27-year-old missed the mark by 590 signatures.
Hrezi said if granted two more days, they will collect the signatures they are short.
An attorney for Congressman Larson asked the Hrezi campaign manager whether there was enough money in the “kitty” to go back out and collect more signatures. She answered yes.
News 8 reached out to both the Attorney General and Secretary of the State to be interviewed for this story. They declined.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the official tabulations of the Secretary of the State’s office has Hrezi with a gap of 579 signatures to get on the ballot.
The judge will make a decision by the end of the week.