Republicans, Democrats Condemn Maine Decision Removing Trump From Ballot

Republicans, Democrats Condemn Maine Decision Removing Trump From Ballot

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The decision came shortly after the Colorado Supreme Court also ruled on Dec. 19 that former President Donald Trump is not eligible to run for president.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum have reacted to the Maine secretary of state’s decision to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, whose office oversees elections in Maine, ruled on Dec. 28 that President Trump cannot appear on the primary ballot in 2024, citing the “insurrection clause” of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Ms. Bellows, in her ruling, pointed to the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.

She argued that President Trump “over the course of several months and culminating on January 6, 2021, used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power.”

As a result of her interpretation of the insurrection clause, Ms. Bellows concluded President Trump’s primary petition is invalid and he is not qualified to hold the office of the president.

Her decision to remove President Trump from the state’s ballot comes shortly after the Colorado Supreme Court also ruled on Dec. 19 that he is not eligible to run for president.

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The Colorado court, which is composed entirely of Democrat appointees, determined in its 4–3 ruling that the Republican had engaged in insurrection during the Jan. 6 breach.

The Colorado GOP has appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Colorado Supreme Court has stayed its own Dec. 19 decision until Jan. 4, 2024, or until the completion of the appeal with the nation’s highest court.

Following Thursday’s decision by Maine’s Secretary of State, Democrats and Republicans—including President Trump’s rivals in the GOP 2024 White House race—criticized the move.

Speaking on Fox News, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the decision from Maine “opens up Pandora’s box” of what can and cannot disqualify a presidential candidate from the ballot going forward.

Mr. DeSantis said the notion that “one bureaucrat in an executive position can simply unilaterally disqualify someone from office turns on its head every notion of constitutional due process that this country has always abided by for over 200 years.”

“Can you have a Republican Secretary of State disqualify Biden from the ballot?” Mr. DeSantis said. “Because he’s let in 8 million people illegally, a massive invasion, including from enemies of our country—places like Iran, China, Middle East, have poured in with his knowledge and assent basically.”

Maine Ruling a ‘Threat to Democracy’

The Florida governor said that ultimately, he does not see Maine’s ruling being upheld.

“I think that we win when we hold Biden accountable and talk about the issues that matter to the American people. So I think the Democrats, they want the election to be about all these other issues. They do not want to face accountability for their failed policies,” the governor concluded.

Meanwhile, GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who previously threatened to withdraw from the GOP primary ballot in Colorado in the wake of the state Supreme Court’s decision, called the Maine ruling a “threat to democracy.”

“The system is hellbent on taking this man out, the Constitution be damned. I stand by my prior pledge to *withdraw* from any state’s ballot that ultimately removes Trump from its ballot,” the biotech entrepreneur wrote on X.

Mr. Ramaswamy also urged his fellow GOP presidential rivals to follow suit, writing that failing to do so would mean they are “tacitly endorsing this illegal and brazen election interference in the GOP primary.”

“This cancer in American politics isn’t limited to the Democrats,” he concluded.

 Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests during the Scott County Fireside Chat at the Tanglewood Hills Pavilion in Bettendorf, Iowa, on Dec. 18, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests during the Scott County Fireside Chat at the Tanglewood Hills Pavilion in Bettendorf, Iowa, on Dec. 18, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A spokesperson for Republican candidate Nikki Haley’s campaign told The New York Times that the former ambassador to the United Nations “will beat Trump fair and square” but that “it should be up to voters to decide who gets elected.”
Elsewhere, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) told Fox News that the decision did not come as a shock, adding that he anticipates more Democrat states will likely follow suit.

“I think that the Democrats are trying to do everything they can in a last-ditch effort to disrupt the Republican momentum right now heading into the presidential election,” Mr. Comer said.

Mr. Comer said his constituents in Kentucky think it is “absurd” that Democrats are moving to ban President Trump from election ballots.

He further stated the “insurrection narrative” Democrats are pushing regarding President Trump is “completely bogus,” arguing that the Jan. 6 breach was a “rally that went bad.”

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also weighed in on the decision, writing on X that “State officials do not get to decide who the American people cast their vote for.”

Ms. McDaniel said the RNC plans to help “fight this legal battle in the US Supreme Court.”

Among Democrats, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) shared his disagreement with the decision by Maine’s secretary of state.

“I do not believe he should be re-elected as President of the United States,” Mr. Golden wrote in a statement shared on X. “However, we are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot.”

‘President Trump Will Never Stop Fighting’

Others, however, praised the decision by Ms. Bellows, who has in the past supported impeaching President Trump.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said in a statement to The New York Times that the text of the 14th Amendment is clear.

The 14th Amendment’s “insurrection clause” bars officials who have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding office.

President Trump has not been indicted under a criminal statute regarding insurrection.

“Our Constitution is the very bedrock of America and our laws and it appears Trump’s actions are prohibited by the Constitution,” Ms. Pingree contended.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) shared a similar statement on X, writing that the text of the 14th Amendment is “crystal clear” and accused President Trump of having “incited a violent riot to overthrow American democracy.”

“Of course, he should be banned from the presidency forever,” the Democrat concluded.

President Trump’s campaign has vowed to challenge Thursday’s decision by Ms. Bellows, with campaign spokesman Steven Cheung branding it an “attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American voters.”

“Democrats in blue states are recklessly and un-Constitutionally suspending the civil rights of the American voters by attempting to summarily remove President Trump’s name from the ballot,” Mr. Cheung said in a statement. “Make no mistake, these partisan election interference efforts are a hostile assault on American democracy.”

The spokesperson said President Trump’s campaign plans to immediately file a legal objection in state court to prevent this “atrocious decision in Maine from taking effect.”

“President Trump will never stop fighting to Make America Great Again,” he said.

Caden Pearson contributed to this report.

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