N.C. Finalizes Ballot, Bans All Biden Competitors from Primary

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(Headline USANorth Carolina’s election board finalized on Tuesday the candidates for the state’s March 5 presidential primaries, leaving President Joe Biden as the lone Democrat for the job on ballots and former President Donald Trump among the Republican competitors.

The five-member State Board of Elections voted unanimously to stick with the candidate lists provided by the state’s Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties last month. The board had given initial approval to those names at its Dec. 19 meeting, when members also agreed to reconvene Tuesday to consider additional names before ballots are printed.

Board officials said that five additional people had unsuccessfully asked to join the presidential primaries. They included U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, author Marianne Williamson and media personality Cenk Uygur for the Democrats and Jill Stein for the Green Party. A board attorney said Tuesday it was unclear which primary another person, Luis Lavin, had asked to run in.

The leading third-party candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., withdrew from the Democratic Party after being frozen out of debates and is now running as an independent, meaning there is no need for a primary.

State law directs parties to provide lists of candidates whose bids for the nation’s highest office are “generally advocated and recognized in the news media throughout the United States or in North Carolina.” The law gives the board discretion to add more candidates whom a majority believes meets the same standard. But none of the board’s members proposed doing so.

Board members who spoke Tuesday said it was appropriate to defer to the wishes of political parties holding primaries that are ultimately designed to choose delegates to their respective national conventions.

“I’m mindful that these are private political parties and that they have associational rights,” said Stacy “Four” Eggers, one of two Republicans on the board. The other three members are registered Democrats.

State Democratic Party spokesperson Tommy Mattocks defended the party’s decision last month to offer only Biden as a candidate, saying in a text that “to get on the ballot, you need to have donors in the state and be actively campaigning in the state.”

Phillips and Williamson “haven’t been here this cycle,” Mattocks added.

As for Stein, the Green Party of North Carolina wrote the board last month saying that it would not participate in the March primary, but instead offer a general election candidate after the party’s nominating convention.

In addition to Trump, the state GOP presented Ryan Binkley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy as candidates on its presidential ballot.

By a 4-1 vote two weeks ago, the board rejected a challenge to Trump’s candidacy by a Stokes County voter who argued the U.S. Constitution disqualifies Trump because of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising at the U.S. Capitol.

Brian Martin’s challenge claimed Trump violated a section of the 14th Amendment that bars from office anyone who once took an oath to uphold the Constitution but then “engaged” in “insurrection or rebellion” against it. The amendment has been cited in rulings in Colorado and Maine that have banned Trump from those states’ ballots.

In North Carolina, the board’s majority had determined that it lacked the authority in state law to consider such a primary challenge. Martin, a retired lawyer who served in Republican U.S. presidential administrations, last week appealed the board decision to Wake County Superior Court, where he asked that swift action be taken. Absentee ballots can start being mailed to requesters in less than three weeks.

The Libertarian Party will have 10 names for its North Carolina presidential primary ballots. Voters in the presidential primaries can also cast a “No Preference” vote instead of one for a candidate.

The No Labels Party, which like the Green Party is an official political party in North Carolina, can also offer a presidential ticket to place on general election ballots.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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