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Texas official threatens to remove Biden from ballot in retaliation for Trump in Colorado

Ruling of Colorado’s highest court sets up SCOTUS battle over Trump’s ballot access

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 20 December 2023 19:22 GMT
Donald Trump falsely claims Colorado court ruling is 'election interference'

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick was one of many Republicans who lashed out at Democrats on Tuesday evening after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that Donald Trump should not be allowed on the ballot in the state.

The ruling late Tuesday caused an uproar in Washington. Mr Trump, who remains accused of 91 felony counts in four separate criminal prosecutions, is widely understood to have encouraged his supporters to rally in Washington on January 6 and on the day itself told them to descend upon the US Capitol. What happened next was an hours-long brawl with police and other law enforcement that left several people dead and dozens of officers wounded. Members of Congress and the US vice president were forced to hide in fear for their lives as Trump supporters rampaged through the Capitol complex, looting offices and issuing violent threats towards police and lawmakers.

He remains the de facto leader of the Republican Party and the wide favourite to win the 2024 Republican primary, according to all available polling. The former president’s GOP allies blamed Democrats for the president’s defeat before the Colorado Supreme Court in the hours after the decision was announced, despite the lawsuit having been brought by a DC-based ethics watchdog.

On Fox News, Mr Patrick even went as far as suggesting that Republicans could move to unilaterally exclude Joe Biden from the ballot in states like Texas where the GOP controls local government. He couched his statement, however, with the notion that his party would not do this because the GOP “believe[s] in democracy”.

“Maybe we should take Joe Biden off the ballot in Texas for allowing 8m people to cross the border since he’s been president, disrupting our state far more than anything anyone else has done in recent history,” said the lieutenant governor.

The statement was not a serious threat but does illuminate the kind of revenge-focused rhetoric that Republican politicians believe, perhaps rightly, that their base wants to hear. Mr Trump’s own third White House bid has echoed those same themes as he vows to exert direct control over the Justice Department if elected in order to prosecute his political enemies, most notably including the Biden family.

There is no legal mechanism in Texas state politics for the governor or lieutenant governor to strip a candidate’s ballot access; such a challenge to a candidate who meets the state’s basic requirements for ballot access would, like in Colorado, require a lawsuit to make its way through the courts. And unlike Mr Trump, the incumbent president is not attached to any events or incidents that could credibly be called an “insurrection”, the basis of the 14th Amendment challenge to the former president’s candidacy in Colorado.

Republicans have fumed at Mr Biden for months over the state of the US border with Mexico, where drug trafficking through ports of entry continues to be a major problem. Large numbers of immigrants crossing the border illegally and claiming asylum in the US, a symptom of longstanding policy that requires such claims to be made on US soil, continue to inflame fears of an “out of control” border as well.

Some members of the GOP, however, have admitted that the problem is not a strictly partisan issue. Texas Congressman Chip Roy, a Republican and ally of Trump rival Ron DeSantis of Florida, explained as much during an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins this week in which he blamed the former president for not seriously addressing the issue either.

"President Trump also failed to actually fully secure the border," he said. "If he had worked with conservatives to get bills passed in 2018 and 2019, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in right now."

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