By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- After falling just short of qualifying for the Republican gubernatorial primary at Saturday's GOP convention, Tea Party candidate Mark Fisher told the News Service he would challenge the vote in court and is setting up a legal defense fund to help to cover the expense.
Fisher, who fell six votes shy of the 15 percent of voting delegates required to make the primary ballot, posted on Facebook page Tuesday that supporters are not limited in what they may contribute to the fund. "We are in the process of setting up a legal defense fund for Mark Fisher 2014 to challenge the convention results. There are no limits to what you can contribute to this fund. If you are interested in supporting please email firstname.lastname@example.org," read the post on the candidate's page.
The Shrewsbury Republican later said in an interview that his campaign was concerned about a number of possible voting irregularities that he believes is the reason he did not qualify for the ballot.
"If every house in a city was in flames, the fire departments would be just so overwhelmed they wouldn't have the resources to cover it, and when the voting was taking place we were getting so much information about what was going wrong that we couldn't respond to it all," Fisher said.
Fisher was hoping to challenge the Republican Party's endorsed candidate for governor Charlie Baker, but according to the final tally of votes announced by the MassGOP he received only 14.7 percent of the vote. Blank votes and whether they would be counted as part of the total number of votes cast become a point of contention at the convention as party officials privately counted the vote, with the Fisher campaign claiming that they had been told conflicting things about the process.
Fisher also challenged the party registration of several voting delegates after the vote as both the Baker and Fisher camps huddled backstage for over an hour after the convention adjourned trying to resolve the final tally.
In its last campaign finance report, the Fisher campaign showed just $2,645.44 in the bank as of March 15. Fisher said his campaign also believes delegates were allowed to vote by proxy without being in Boston in violation of convention rules, and the party denied a full recount despite past precedent at conventions for recounting ballots.
After voting had been completed, Fisher said the party found one instance of a number of non-votes being incorrectly counted as blanks, or present votes, in a single Senate district and removed them from the final tally, but denied his campaign's request to make sure the same error didn't occur in other districts.
Fisher also accused MassGOP party officials of adding delegates to the convention and not informing his campaign right up until the vote. "It appeared to us that these people were either staffer of the GOP or the Baker campaign being signed up as delegates at the last minute," Fisher said.
A spokeswoman for the Republican Party could not immediately be reached Tuesday evening to respond to the allegations.
"I can't believe that the state party when we place this on their doorstep that they're going to want to court to court to defend this stuff. We're prepared, but that's going to look horrible," Fisher said.