Trump demands Maine secretary of state recuse herself in 14th Amendment challenge

Trump's team claims Bellows is a Biden supporter and can’t be fair.

December 27, 2023, 9:35 PM

Former President Donald Trump's legal team filed a request on Wednesday in Maine asking Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, to recuse herself from ruling on his ballot eligibility in the state.

Bellows is expected to rule on three challenges that seek to disqualify Trump from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and the 22nd Amendment.

"The Secretary is a completely biased Democrat partisan and a Biden supporter who is incapable of making a fair decision and allowing the people of Maine the right to vote for the candidate of their choosing,” Trump’s team said in a statement. “Any attempt to remove President Trump’s name from the ballot is blatant election interference.”

Former President Donald Trump gestures at the end of a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on December 19, 2023. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)
Former President Donald Trump gestures at the end of a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on December 19, 2023. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)
Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

In the statement, Trump’s team said the secretary’s “personal animus and bias" is "so deep that she is rendered incapable of allowing a fair hearing of this pressing matter.”

Trump is facing more than a dozen tests over his ballot eligibility under the 14th Amendment in various state and federal courts.

Earlier on Wednesday, Michigan's Supreme Court became the latest to decide that the former president would not be disqualified from running in the state’s GOP primary.

Maine is the first state to allow its secretary of state to rule on a challenge.

Bellows was set to rule on the challenges last Friday, but her decision was delayed until this week, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office said, due to technical difficulties and in light of the Colorado Supreme Court ruling on the matter last week.

Once Bellows issues her ruling, if there are challengers to the decision, they can appeal in state court.

On Dec. 15, Bellows presided over a daylong consolidated hearing at the Maine State House in Augusta, which considered three challenges filed with state election officials the week prior, all seeking to bar Trump from appearing on Maine’s Republican primary ballot.

The most high-profile challenge comes from three Maine politicians: former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and former state Sens. Kim Rosen, a Republican, and Tom Saviello, who is a former Republican-turned-independent, who have based their argument on the 14th Amendment.

Late Wednesday, the Colorado Republican State Central Committee appealed their state's Supreme Court decision that ruled Trump off the GOP ballot.

Filing their appeal Wednesday automatically triggered the stay the Colorado Supreme Court outlined in their ruling last week.

Colorado's four-justice majority stayed the ruling until Jan. 4, 2024, if their decision was appealed, saying it would maintain the status quo pending any review from the Supreme Court before Jan. 5, 2024, the date the GOP ballot needs to be certified by.

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