BOSTON (AP) -- A contested Republican primary for Massachusetts governor is looking increasingly likely.
Republican Party leaders have agreed to vote to certify tea party-affiliated candidate Mark Fisher for the primary ballot, party lawyer Louis Ciavarra said in court Friday. Ciavarra said the paperwork could be delivered to the state secretary's office as early as Monday.
That would pave the way for a primary contest between Fisher and Charlie Baker, who already has the party's endorsement and was the GOP's candidate for governor in 2010.
A spokesman for Baker said Friday that "Charlie welcomes Mr. Fisher to the race and looks forward to demonstrating that he is the only candidate, Democrat or Republican, with the experience necessary to lead state government."
Fisher had sued the party seeking access to the ballot after he said it violated its own vote-counting rules at its state convention in March by including blank ballots in the tally and adding 54 blanks to the total after the roll call on the convention floor.
The party maintains Fisher fell just short of qualifying for the primary ballot by failing to win the needed 15 percent of delegate votes.
Earlier in the week, the party had offered to certify Fisher in exchange for Fisher agreeing to delay any additional legal proceedings until after the election.
Fisher rejected that offer. The party had decided to go ahead and certify him anyway, according to Ciavarra.
Fisher said he's collected the voter signatures also required to secure a spot on the ballot.
State Secretary William Galvin's office said Friday that local and town clerks have already certified more than the 10,000 needed signatures. The signatures must still be collected and delivered to Galvin's office, where the paperwork must be verified.
At that point Fisher's name would be approved to appear on the September primary ballot.
A trial in Fisher's lawsuit had been scheduled for June 16, but the judge canceled it.
Fisher's attorney, Thomas Harvey said he'll still seek monetary damages from the party for what he said were campaign costs incurred because of the delay in certifying him.
"They tried to basically ruin his campaign," Harvey said.
Harvey said he'll also continue to ask the court to force the party to release voter tally sheets from the convention. Fisher believes those sheets will bolster his argument that party leaders broke their own rules to try to deliberately keep him off the ballot.
Harvey said in court that he doesn't have enough evidence yet to allege conspiracy or fraud without the sheets. The judge overseeing the case, Justice Douglas Wilkins, said he wasn't sure Fisher has a legal right to the sheets.