Trump voters ambush New Hampshire state office over false rumour he was removed from primary ballot

New Hampshire secretary of state says he’s ‘not seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 29 August 2023 13:55 BST
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The office of the New Hampshire secretary of state was flooded with calls from Trump supporters concerned about a false rumour that the former president was being kept off the primary ballot.

Hundreds of outraged supporters called the office on Monday after conservative talk show host Charlie Kirk inaccurately told his listeners that the state was moving to push out Donald Trump.

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, a Republican, told NBC News that he’s “not seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot, and I have not said that I am seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot”.

But Mr Scanlan added that he does expect Mr Trump’s qualifications to run in New Hampshire to be challenged under the 14th Amendment, which states that no one who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the US may hold public office.

On his programme on Monday, Mr Kirk said: “I don’t care if you live in New Hampshire or not. It should be a nationwide movement of people contacting because this impacts everybody.”

“We’re gonna break the phone lines and say, ‘Who do you think you are for even entertaining this?’” he added.

It’s the most recent instance of Republicans targeting election administration officials in their partisan fight fueled by conspiracy theories and Mr Trump’s constant lies that the system is rigged against him.

Mr Trump endorsed Bryant Messner when he ran for senate in New Hampshire in the 2020 election. But Mr Messner is no longer an ally of the former president.

In a meeting with Mr Scanlan on Friday, Mr Messner, “made a presentation to me about what he is thinking in terms of making a challenge to the former president’s qualifications,” the secretary of state told NBC.

“I listened, just as I would listen to anybody that wants to come in with issues related to any candidate’s qualifications one way or the other,” he added.

“I intend to be prepared by seeking appropriate legal input so that when the time comes to make a decision on those challenges, to qualifications, that I can respond appropriately with the facts,” Mr Scanlan told the network.

Mr Messner told NBC that he brought the issue to Mr Scanlan “purely as a constitutional conservative”.

He said that he thinks it’s in “everybody’s interest if this gets to the US Supreme Court as quickly as possible”.

Mr Messner told NBC that Mr Scanlan told him that “without some judicial guidance, that he really didn’t feel like he can make a decision regarding the 14th Amendment, Section 3. And I agree with him”.

“The Supreme Court may decide that, you know, in fact, Section 3 does not disqualify Donald Trump,” Mr Messner added. “And that would be good for [Trump] that the air would be clear then.”

Chris Ager, the chairman of the Republican Party in New Hampshire, said in a statement on Monday that “efforts to deny New Hampshire Republican primary voters a full slate of options are antithetical to our ‘live free or die’ spirit”.

“The New Hampshire State Republican Party will fight all efforts to eliminate candidates from our primary ballot,” he added. “I have confidence in our secretary of state and attorney general to make the right decisions. Let voters decide the nominee, not a weaponized federal justice system using tortured logic.”

Speaking to Mr Kirk on Monday, Mr Ager said that he has spoken to Mr Scanlan and the state’s Attorney General John Formella, also a member of the GOP.

“I am very confident that all of the 14 current candidates who apply will be on our ballot,” Mr Ager told Mr Kirk.

The former governor of Arkansas and 2024 presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson brought up the 14th Amendment during the initial GOP primary debate last week.

“Well over a year ago, I said that Donald Trump was morally disqualified from being president, again, as a result of what happened on January 6,” he said in reference to the 2021 Capitol riot.

“More people are understanding the importance of that, including conservative legal scholars, who says he may be disqualified under the 14th Amendment from being president, again, as a result of the insurrection. This is something that could disqualify him, under our rules and under the Constitution,” he added.

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