Notte hit with residency challenge in state House race

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Democratic state House candidate Michael Notte did not move into his Macomb County district soon enough to qualify for the ballot, his Republican opponent alleged Wednesday in an emergency legal complaint.

Diana Farrington of Utica is asking the Michigan Court of Claims to keep Notte’s name off the Nov. 8 ballot, potentially upending a highly competitive race in the 30th House District that Democrats are hoping to win.

Notte moved into the district on March 23, according to Farrington’s attorneys. He was required to be a registered and “qualified elector” by the April 19 filing deadline, but Farrington’s court filing notes Michigan election law defines qualified elector as a person “who has resided in the city or township for 30 days.”

If true, the timeline “means that Notte is clearly not qualified to appear on the 2016 general election ballot,” according to the legal complaint.

Notte did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for House Democrats said legal counsel would weigh in.

Public records provided to The Detroit News show Notte filed closing documents for a Shelby Township property on March 23. He changed his address with the Michigan Secretary of State on March 25 to Shelby from Macomb Township, which is split between Districts 24 and 33.

“He may have some story about how he was sleeping on somebody’s couch for the extra seven days, but by the legal deed, it looks like he did not own property in the district until the 30-day deadline passed,” said Farrington attorney Kevin Blair.

With absentee ballot preparation already underway, Farrington is seeking immediate consideration by the Court of Claims.

The 30th District House race has been expected to be one of the state’s most competitive this fall. The seat is a prime target for Democrats seeking to regain control of the lower chamber for the first time since 2010.

Farrington, a mortgage auditor, is seeking to replace her husband, Republican state Rep. Jeff Farrington, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

Notte, who works at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, may have an even more recognizable name in Macomb County as the son of late Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte.

Notte cruised through the Democratic primary, winning 77 percent of the vote in his match-up with auto salesman John Spica of Utica.

Farrington notched a narrow 54-vote victory over Michael Shallal of Sterling Heights in a four-candidate Republican primary.

Notte “has been misrepresenting himself to the public,” Farrington said in a statement, “and the truth is finally coming out.”