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Maine bars Trump from state’s 2024 Presidential primary ballot

Bloomberg • 4 min read
Maine bars Trump from state’s 2024 Presidential primary ballot
GOP frontrunner facing efforts to keep him off state ballots. Photo: Bloomberg
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Maine’s secretary of state ruled that Donald Trump cannot run in the state’s Republican primary, citing his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The ruling, which is certain to face court challenges, marks the latest attempt by opponents to keep Trump — the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in polls — off the ballot for his actions after losing in 2020.

Shenna Bellows, Maine’s top election official and a Democrat, made her decision after receiving three challenges from voters, and cited Trump’s conduct culminating in the insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly. Democracy is sacred,” Bellows wrote. “I am mindful that no secretary of state has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.” 

She added that Trump could appeal her decision. 

The Maine ruling is only the latest in a contentious struggle over the former president’s eligibility to run for office again that is likely to end up before the US Supreme Court.

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The Trump campaign assailed the decision as politically motivated.

“We are witnessing, in real-time, the attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American voter,” the campaign said in a statement Thursday night, shortly after Bellows released her ruling.

Polls show that Trump is the clear frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination with weeks before the first contest in Iowa.

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“This decision just makes this epic constitutional showdown even more so than it was yesterday,” said Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. “All of this puts more pressure on the Supreme Court to act and make a decision.”

Waldman expects the Supreme Court to decide not whether Trump engaged in insurrection, but who has the authority to decide whether such an act bars him from holding office in the future. “There’s a real need for national clarity on this,” he said.

14th Amendment 

Trump has faced dozens of lawsuits across the country claiming he’s ineligible for another presidential term under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — a provision which states that a person who took an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” is ineligible to hold office.

Earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s conduct after the election was covered by the amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War, and barred him from the state’s 2024 presidential ballot. The Colorado Republican Party has asked the US Supreme Court to overturn that ruling and Trump is expected to file his own appeal in that case.

Because of that appeal, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold on Thursday said Trump would be included as a candidate on the ballot when certification occurs on Jan. 5, 2024, unless the US Supreme Court declines to take the case or otherwise affirms the state high court’s ruling.

“I urge the US Supreme Court to act quickly given the upcoming presidential primary election,” Griswold said in a statement.

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Trump was able to beat back a separate challenge in Michigan earlier this week, where the state’s top court said he could remain on the ballot there.

His campaign on Thursday pointed out that other states have blocked other efforts to keep him off the ballot.

“State courts in Michigan and Minnesota have rejected these bad-faith, bogus 14th Amendment ballot challenges, as have federal courts in New Hampshire, Arizona, Florida, Rhode Island, West Virginia, along with ten other federal jurisdictions,” the campaign said in its statement. 

Trump also faces other legal challenges, including separate criminal prosecutions over his role in the attack on the Capitol and over alleged efforts to block the return of classified documents.

The former president has insisted he was acting within his official duties in the run-up to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, in which his supporters sought to storm the building to prevent lawmakers from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. 

Biden’s Trump Strategy 

Biden has made Trump’s legal troubles and political rhetoric a centerpiece of his reelection pitch, telling voters that returning his predecessor to office would threaten the country’s democratic institutions.

Maine could play a pivotal role in a close general election race. Candidates can split the state’s four electoral college votes.

Trump is leading Biden by 5 percentage points in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, according to a December Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll.

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