Election signs for Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Max Linn are seen along Route 1 in Bath. A federal judge on Friday Linn’s last-ditch effort to re-enter Tuesday’s primary election. Credit: Christopher Cousins

A federal judge on Friday denied Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Max Linn’s last-ditch effort to re-enter Tuesday’s primary election for the right to face independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, then teased a run against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

The pronouncement that he’d run in 2020 came after a third straight loss in court for Linn, a former Florida gubernatorial candidate who continued to send mailers and place campaign signs after Maine’s high court upheld the secretary of state’s ruling that Linn didn’t qualify for the 2018 primary.

Linn supporters appealed that ruling to U.S. District Court on Monday, but his bid for an injunction to allow votes for him to be counted in Tuesday’s primary was rejected from the bench by Judge Nancy Torreson on Friday. Linn’s side had argued that signatures were improperly disqualified because of “guilt by association.”

That ends nearly three months of legal wrangling over the candidacy of Linn, who ran for Florida governor in 2006 and for Congress in that state as a Democrat in 2008 before emerging in Maine politics as a pro-President Donald Trump Republican in January.

Collins, a moderate Republican, refused to support Trump after he became her party’s presidential nominee in 2016. While there have been signs that her popularity has flagged among Republicans, she has often polled as Maine’s most popular politician, won 67 percent of votes in 2014 and has never faced a primary challenger since winning her seat in 1996.

Furthermore, Linn’s campaign should hardly be seen as a threat. On Twitter, Linn said he was “officially announcing” a run against Collins, saying Maine needs a “#TrumpStrong” senator. A Collins spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap qualified Linn for this year’s ballot in March, but his ballot status was challenged and eventually appealed to court by state Sen. Eric Brakey, who is now running unopposed for the Republican nomination to face King, an independent, on Tuesday, while Zak Ringelstein of Yarmouth is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Brakey’s campaign flagged scores of fraudulent signatures, including some that were purportedly from dead people and others who said they never signed his petitions. Dunlap reversed his initial decision to let Linn on the ballot in April and it has stood up in court since.

Linn’s campaign has admitted that signatures were fraudulent, but it has said it didn’t know who was responsible. Linn has blamed Brakey’s campaign for it without proof.

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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...