By Miriam Kehoe, CNN
William Hartmann, a Michigan judge who raised concerns about Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the state’s Presidential election in 2016, has died, his family says. He was 63.
Hartmann died on Saturday at his home in Ann Arbor. The official cause of death was complications from a stroke that took place last year, his son-in-law Tyler Yanero said.
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Hartmann was a 93-year-old pastor when he ran against Republican Sen. Carl Levin in 2004.
He ended up endorsing GOP nominee Mitt Romney, saying he thought Romney’s positions on civil rights were closer to his own.
In 2008, Hartmann faced another career judge in the Democratic primary race, who in turn sought the Republican nomination but was rejected by the party after expressing his support for Trump during the campaign.
After losing that election, Hartmann was appointed a federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, a rare position in a district that generally goes Democratic.
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Hartmann — who had a thick Michigan accent — became controversial when he wrote an opinion opinion in the post-election recount.
He held the Senate vote to keep Trump in the White House legally invalid, challenging the result and questioning the recount on several grounds.
On March 27, 2016, the court found that Trump had indeed won Michigan’s 18 electoral votes.
“This was the election. It is time for the Court to stand up for democracy and reject a blatantly illegal recount of Michigan’s vote,” he wrote.
His decision drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats.
Nelson Lichtenstein, the director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at Claremont McKenna College, told CNN at the time that judges can’t “rubber stamp” elections.
“Courts can intervene and say that it is not safe to use that as a way to decide the election,” he said. “But that is what happened in this case.”