Lawyers said that Melissa Gilbert hadn’t “adequately proved that she would be physically unfit to serve in Congress,” in a letter to the state’s election director Friday. Gilbert recently had surgery.
The state Republican Party is challenging a decision by the Michigan Secretary of State’s office to let “Little House on the Prairie” actress Melissa Gilbert withdraw from a congressional race due to poor health.
In a letter to Chris Thomas, the state’s elections director, and the state Board of Canvassers, lawyers for the party said it should be up to the board — not Thomas — to determine if Gilbert can withdraw as the Democratic nominee in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District.
Thomas sent a letter to Democratic officials this week saying their choice to replace Gilbert with assistant Macomb County prosecutor Suzanna Shkreli could be certified for the November general election ballot after the results of the Aug. 2 primary are certified by the board at its meeting next Monday.
“Under Michigan’s election law,” Thomas wrote state Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon on Monday, “a congressional candidate may withdraw after having won the party’s nomination by notifying the party that he or she has become physically unfit.”
But in their letter to Thomas and the board, lawyers Jason Hanselman and Gary Gordon argued that Gilbert — who withdrew from the race citing neck and back injuries suffered years ago and underwent surgery earlier this month — hadn’t “adequately proved that she would be physically unfit to serve in Congress.”
The two suggested that Thomas had acted unilaterally and called on the board to take up the issue at its Monday meeting, saying to do otherwise would be disenfranchise the will of the voters. Thomas told the Free Press on Friday that the board is free to take it up if it wishes.
Gilbert made the surprise announcement that she was dropping out of the race months ago but because the deadline had passed, she could not be removed from the Aug. 2 primary ballot. Democratic officials coalesced around Shkreli, a political newcomer, to take on U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester.