Dad’s Coronavirus Interrupts Son’s Campaign Signature Gathering

A Massachusetts politician’s family member may have unwittingly exposed the public to the coronavirus while gathering petition signatures.

Attorney Kevin O’Connor, a Republican who hopes to challenge U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D), has asked state lawmakers to change the requirement that he gather 10,000 valid signatures by May 5.

O’Connor’s father tested positive for the virus on Sunday. Before that, O’Connor said, his mother had gathered signatures for him, possibly exposing members of the public to the virus.

“In order to satisfy the current ballot access requirements, state law dictates that millions of otherwise unnecessary personal interactions take place,” O’Connor said. “In the current environment, this requirement is self-evidently misguided and dangerous.”

His campaign spokeswoman, Sarah Selip, said the legislature could consider several options, such as allowing for electronic signatures or suspendoimg the signature requirements to qualify for the Sept. 1 primary.

“The method is less important than to act fast,” she said Thursday.

State House and Senate leaders didn’t reply Thursday to a request for comment.

Lawmakers on March 23 are to consider legislation to reschedule special state legislative elections, and to allow cities and towns to postpone municipal elections, state House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D), said Thursday.

On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law a bill requiring candidates to submit their petition signatures by Friday instead of by April 2 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adrianne Appel in Boston at aappel@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com

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