Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn of Bar Harbor attends a hearing regarding alleged problems with some signatures on his ballot access petitions on Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Augusta. Credit: Christopher Cousins

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s high court upheld a ruling on Tuesday keeping Republican Max Linn out of the U.S. Senate primary in June, ending a campaign that was derailed by fraudulent nomination signatures that the one-time candidate admitted but never explained.

The decision from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court came just one day after oral arguments before the justices and concludes a drawn-out appeal process that state Sen. Eric Brakey — who is now alone in the primary — used to get Linn removed from the race.

Linn, a former third-party gubernatorial candidate in Florida who now lives in Bar Harbor, began his campaign at a Republican meeting in January as a pro-President Donald Trump hopeful. He adopted Trumpian rhetoric in his campaign, deriding “Cowardly Eric Brakey” at an April news conference as his ballot status was being questioned.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap initially qualified Linn for the ballot in March. He upheld that decision in early April following an appeal from Brakey’s campaign, which discovered several signatures on Linn’s nominating petitions that purportedly came from dead people or others who said they never signed for the candidate.

Brakey operatives discovered more bad signatures, sued Dunlap and persuaded his office and a Superior Court judge to allow another hearing on Linn’s status. At the hearing in late April, Linn’s campaign admitted that signatures on the petitions constituted fraud, but that the candidate didn’t know who was responsible.

Dunlap then knocked off another 28 signatures and the lower-court judge upheld his recommendation that Linn be removed from the race. The high court upheld that decision Tuesday. His name will physically be on the June ballot, but voters will be notified he has been disqualified from the race.

Brakey of Auburn and Democrat Zak Ringelstein of Portland are now running alone in the June 12 primaries for their parties’ nominations to face independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, a first-term senator and former two-term governor, in November.

A Linn spokesman didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. David Boyer, a Brakey spokesman, said Tuesday marks “the first day of the general election” and that the campaign is “gunning for Sen. King.”

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...