Maine’s Democratic secretary of state on Thursday disqualified former President Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot.
In her ruling, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which bans from office those who “engaged in insurrection.”
Bellows made the ruling after some state residents, including a bipartisan group of former lawmakers, challenged Trump’s position on the ballot.
Trump’s lawyers requested Bellows disqualify herself over tweets that they believed showed bias. In the tweets, Bellows, a lawyer and former executive director of the ACLU, called the U.S. Capitol attack an “insurrection” and bemoaned that Trump wasn’t convicted by the U.S. Senate after being impeached by the U.S. House.
Trump Campaign spokesman Steven Cheung derided Bellows as “a virulent leftist and a hyper-partisan Biden-supporting Democrat who has decided to interfere in the presidential election on behalf of Crooked Joe Biden.”
“We are witnessing, in real-time, the attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American voter,” Cheung said. “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.
“Make no mistake, these partisan election interference efforts are a hostile assault on American democracy. Biden and the Democrats simply do not trust the American voter in a free and fair election and are now relying on the force of government institutions to protect their grip on power.”
The Maine Republican Party likened the ruling to an attack on democracy.
“Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, once named the most progressive Senate candidate in America, unilaterally threw Donald Trump off the ballot,” Maine GOP said in a statement.
“The Maine Republican Party has been fighting these backroom elites since they started their push to subvert democracy by tossing President Trump. Rest assured we’ll be fighting this in court — all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. And we reserve our right as a private organization to use a caucus system if that’s what it takes to keep a Democrat Hack Secretary of State from infringing on the Rights of Maine voters.”
Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, who voted to impeach Trump and does “not believe he should be re-elected as President of the United States, criticized the ruling.
“[W]e are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot,” Golden tweeted.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Maine voters “should decide who wins the election – not a Secretary of State chosen by the Legislature.”
“The Secretary of State’s decision would deny thousands of Mainers the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, and it should be overturned,” she tweeted.
Maine law mandated that Bellows hold a public hearing over the issue, which she did in December. Bellows allowed each side to submit additional arguments after the Colorado Supreme Court’s historic Dec. 19 decision that Section 3 of the 14th amendment barred Trump from the ballot.
Bellows suspended her ruling until Maine’s state Superior Court rules on the matter.
A ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court earlier this month booted Trump from the ballot there under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Colorado is a Democratic-leaning state that is not expected to be competitive for Republicans in November.
Secretary of state Shenna Bellows demonstrates how Mainers are now electronically registering to vote or updating voter registration at BMV locations during a visit to the BMV in Portland Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
But even though Maine has just four electoral votes, it’s one of two states to split them. Trump won one of Maine’s electors in 2020, so having him off the ballot could have significant consequences for the election – should he emerge as the Republican candidate. If he’s not on the ballot there, he would start his 2024 campaign down one Electoral College vote.
Similar battles are playing out in other states, where activists have asked election officials to remove the former president from their states’ primary ballots under Section 3 of the 14th amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a final decision on Trump’s eligibility nationwide.