Former child star Melissa Gilbert’s decision to drop out of a Michigan congressional race is being challenged by the state’s Republican Party.
The state GOP is challenging the decision by the Michigan’s Secretary of State’s office to let Gilbert withdraw from the race and be replaced by another Democrat, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Gilbert, who grew up on television playing Laura Ingalls in the “Little House on the Prairie” series, wants to drop out of the contest due to “poor health.”
The Secretary of State’s office on Monday agreed to let Democrats replace Gilbert with Suzanna Shkrele, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Macomb County. The decision came a day before the official deadline for changing names on ballots. Shkrele will face GOP candidate Mike Bishop in November.
But in a letter to Chris Thomas, the state’s elections director, and the state Board of Canvassers, GOP attorneys said it should have been left to the board, and not Thomas, to rule whether Gilbert can drop out of the general election contest.
“The threshold question here … is whether the Legislature intended to allow party bosses to ignore the will of the people by allowing a select few to replace a democratically elected nominee,” the GOP lawyers wrote, according to The Daily Mail.
“Allowing the Democratic Party to manipulate the election process opens the door to shenanigans in future elections.”
State law gives two reasons allowing a candidate to withdraw — when a candidate no longer lives in the state, or becomes physically unfit.
Gilbert left the race in May, saying health issues related to a 2012 accident made it difficult for her to campaign.
Lawyers for the state GOP say Gilbert has not “adequately proved” she is not physically sound to serve in office if elected, The Daily Mail reported.
“My doctors said there’s no way for me to continue to deal with the incredibly rigorous demands of a congressional campaign without continuing to do harm to my body,” Gilbert told May interview with People magazine.
She said she suffered whiplash and a concussion after a fall while appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” and later was injured when the balcony of her rented house in California collapsed on her head.
Her official campaign website hasn’t been updated since April 5.
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