Hirsh Singh
A New Jersey court rejected Hirsh Singh’s appeal to participate in the Republican primary debates.

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — A New Jersey state appeals court rejected a lawsuit filed by Indian-American gubernatorial candidate Hirsh Singh, a little-known Republican demanding he be allowed to participate in a pair of state-sponsored GOP primary debates this month.

The 32-year-old aerospace engineer who has never run for state office had sued the state Election Law Enforcement Commission to receive a spot on stage, even though he missed a key deadline.

The appellate court’s decision comes five days before the first primary debates will be held Tuesday. Singh could still petition the state Supreme Court to hear the case. Candidates who raised more than $430,000 by April 3 qualified for the state’s matching funds program, a program which provides $2 in public money for every $1 raised by gubernatorial candidates. Under state law, they are then required to take part in the debates, which are sponsored  ELEC, the state’s election watchdog agency.

Those who do not take matching funds may participate in the debates if they show they have at least $430,000 in campaign cash, either through self-funding or fundraising, according to the law. The deadline to show proof of fundraising was April 3.

In his lawsuit, Singh claimed he has raised more than $900,000 but admits he missed that deadline.

Stephen Edelstein, Singh’s attorney, called it an “innocent mistake of a first-time candidate.”

On Thursday, the court wrote that not being in the debates does not “jeopardize his placement on the primary ballot.”

“Because this decision does not deprive voters of the opportunity to choose Singh as the Republican nominee, we are constrained to apply to the law as written,” the court added.