Maine secretary of state faces criticism from fellow Dems over Trump ballot decision

Maine secretary of state faces criticism from fellow Dems over Trump ballot decision

Maine’s Democratic secretary of state is facing growing criticism from her party over her decision to remove former President Donald Trump from Maine’s ballot.

Rep. Jared Golden, a Maine Democrat whose competitive House district Trump won in 2016 and 2020, criticized the ruling in a statement posted to social media Thursday night.

“I voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the January 6th Insurrection. I do not believe he should be re-elected as President of the United States,” Golden wrote. “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.”

Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, said in a statement that while he respected Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ “careful process,” he believed “that the decision as to whether or not Mr. Trump should again be considered for the presidency should rest with the people as expressed in free and fair elections.”

“This is the ultimate check within our Constitutional system,” King continued. Both Golden and King voted to respectively impeach and convict Trump during his two impeachments.

Bellows, who made the call because state law requires the secretary to adjudicate ballot challenges to candidates’ eligibility, decided that Trump is ineligible to hold office because she determined his conduct during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, rose to the level of insurrection and thus violated the so-called insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment.

“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,” Bellows wrote in defense of her ruling in her determination. “I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

The decision has highlighted the ideological splits in Maine’s small congressional delegation, which contains a Republican, an independent and two Democrats that each represent divergent wings of their party. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), the other member of Maine’s House delegation and a vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, posted on social media shortly after the decision that “[the] text of the Fourteenth Amendment is clear. No person who engaged in an insurrection against the government can ever again serve in elected office.”

It’s not the first time Golden, a Blue Dog Democrat, has bucked his party. Since he was elected in 2018, Golden has been one of the few House Democrats to support gun rights. He was also the sole Democrat to vote against President Joe Biden’s signature Build Back Better infrastructure package and has regularly voted against other marquee pieces of legislation, such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

King, despite his alignment with Senate Democrats, has also defied his caucus’ orthodoxy, endorsing Republicans in the past and opposing efforts to ban assault rifles.

But the responses to efforts across the country to remove Trump from state ballots in light of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause have split largely along partisan lines. Republicans have widely panned efforts to remove Trump from the ballot in Maine and other states as undemocratic, while national Democrats have largely united in their support for removing Trump.

Maine on Thursday became the second state to remove Trump from the ballot in two weeks, after Colorado. Three states, including California on Thursday, have allowed Trump to remain on the ballot.

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