We told you over the past 18 months how difficult it would be for candidates without much of an organization to be obtain the required minimum 4,500 signatures for U.S. Senate ballot access (with at least 500 from each congressional district), particularly in the age of Covid . . . and we were right. U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R) and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, Jr. (D), will be the only candidates from their respective parties on the U.S. Senate primary ballot. Volunteer attorneys from both Lewis & Wilkins and Bose McKinney & Evans, LLP teamed up on Sen. Young’s behalf to successfully challenge insufficient signatures from Danny Niederberger (R) of Hamilton County − who raised some interesting, if non-dispositive − questions about local practice by the Marion County Clerk’s office that could potentially have posed some interesting questions had the numbers been closer and the case went to the courts. A Valparaiso attorney close to Mayor McDermott was able to successfully challenge the petitions of Gary’s Haneefah Khaaliq (D) as short in five districts and Valerie McCray (D) as deficient in all nine districts. McCray did not go quietly − literally − blasting the challenge as hypocritical in light of McDermott’s professed preference for having all the candidates on the ballot; condemning the move as diminishing minority and female ballot presence; seemingly baselessly accusing McDermott of illegally photocopying signatures from prior petition-gathering efforts to attain the necessary number of 2022 signatures; and making unsubstantiated charges of her nascent campaign being “strategically sabotaged,” saddled with thousands of fake signatures. She also blamed the final week’s weather and county clerks who allegedly certified hundreds of signatures but which failed to find their way to the Secretary of State’s Office.