EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

May 8, 2014

GOP offers Fischer ballot access amid reports of settlement demands

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Republican Party offered yesterday to certify Republican gubernatorial hopeful Mark Fisher for the primary ballot in a bid to resolve a legal battle with the Shrewsbury businessman that a party lawyer said has become a “distraction” and a “drain on resources” for the GOP.

Fisher, a Tea Party Republican hoping to challenge the GOP’s leading contender for governor, Charlie Baker, has yet to respond to the offer made in writing to his campaign and through the courts, but he scheduled a press conference for today to discuss his plans. Fisher contends in his lawsuit that he was unfairly denied access to the September primary ballot due to improper vote-counting at the party’s nominating convention.

The candidate has also not responded to claims from the party’s attorney Louis Ciavarra that Fisher was demanding as much as $1 million in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.

The motion filed in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday by Ciavarra argues that proceeding with a trial scheduled for June 16 is “moot” because the party is prepared to offer Fisher exactly what he’s been seeking — access to the Republican primary ballot.

“The cost of winning this case is probably greater than the cost to bring closure to it,” Ciavarra told the News Service. “We do not believe there has been a violation of any rule or law that will subject any defendant to liability but the financial cost of that success, the time to get there and the restriction of not being able to focus on what’s important is greater than certifying him.”

Fisher sued the MassGOP after the party’s convention, alleging that party leaders improperly manipulated the vote count resulting in him narrowly falling short of the 15 percent total required to qualify for the primary ballot.

Asked whether the campaign would accept the offer of ballot access, campaign manager Deb McCarthy said, “I can’t comment on that,” but said Fisher would make a statement and take questions at 10 a.m. today at the Omni Parker House downtown.

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