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Maine threatens Chris Christie’s presence on Republican primary ballot

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Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie faces the risk of exclusion from Maine’s Republican primary ballot, falling short of the required 2,000 signatures from state voters. Officials reported that Christie’s campaign submitted only 844 certified names, prompting Maine’s Director of Elections, Heidi M. Peckham, to issue a letter highlighting the deficiency.

Candidates were obligated to file signatures with municipal clerks for certification before the 5 p.m. Friday deadline. Christie’s campaign asserts that they collected and submitted over 6,000 signatures, citing a procedural issue in the review process. The campaign has five days to appeal the decision in Maine Superior Court.

The current lineup for the GOP primary ballot in Maine includes former President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and pastor Ryan Binkley. On the Democratic side, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and President Biden are set to appear on their party’s primary ballot.

The primary contests are scheduled for March 5, 2024, on Super Tuesday, featuring the most state primaries or caucuses in a single day. Maine’s primary election will operate under the new semi-open primary law, allowing registered unenrolled voters to participate in any party’s primary. However, enrolled voters seeking to switch parties must do so 15 days before casting a ballot.

Unenrolled voters constitute a substantial portion of Maine’s registered voters, making up over 28% of the total in 2022. Christie’s campaign has focused on winning in New Hampshire, emphasizing appeal to independents, given the state’s influential role as the first-in-the-nation primary.

Despite Christie’s strategy to position himself as an alternative to Trump and garner support from independents in various primaries, the setback in Maine poses a significant challenge. The campaign’s hope to secure delegates even in states not won outright now faces added complexity, potentially impacting the broader nomination path.

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