For everyone who watched Ohio Gov. John Kasich safeguard his path to reelection last year by engaging in dirty tricks that derailed the Libertarian Party of Ohio’s candidate for governor from making the ballot, the attempt Tuesday by a Kasich operative to keep Donald Trump off the New Hampshire primary ballot is more deja vu all over again.
As reported by Dan Tuohy for The New Hampshire Union Leader, the chairman of the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission [NHBLC] told a former state Republican Party Chairman that Mr. Trump’s name would be on the GOP primary ballot.
Fergus Cullen, the man working for Gov. Kasich in the Granite State who tried to get the NHBLC to dump Trump, was dumped himself after just 67 seconds. Chairman of the group, Brad Cook, said he had heard enough from Mr. Cullen who tried to contest Donald Trump’s name on the GOP primary ballot. Mr. Cook called Mr. Cullen’s challenge “grandstanding of the first order, and I didn’t appreciate it,” WMUR reported
Tuohy reported that Chairman Cook interrupted Mr. Cullen to explain that his panel is not charged to weigh any of his claims as to whether Trump is “Republican enough.” Cook proceeded to confirm that Trump is a registered Republican in New York.
“This isn’t about whether we like Donald Trump,” Cook said, according to the Union Leader. “I mean, if ‘Republican enough’ was what this commission had to do, heaven forbid, we would be here all day, and I’d probably be thrown out of the party.”
John Kasich finds himself losing badly in national polls, and is way behind Donald Trump in New Hampshire, the focus of his single-state campaign. Gov. Kasich has committed his people and campaign cash to New Hampshire, and “New Day America,” his super PAC, is trying to take down Donald Trump for his positions and statements.
The superpac announced last week that it’s planning to spend $2.5 million to attack Donald Trump over the next two months via radio, television and digital ads in New Hampshire.
Chairman Cook asked for a motion and the commission voted unanimously to dismiss Mr. Cullen’s complaint. Donald Trump, who got the best of John Kasich in a nasty exchange of tweets last week and mocked him at a rally in Columbus that drew about 14,000 to hear him, will remain on the New Hampshire GOP primary ballot come February.
Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will also remain on the state primary ballot despite attempts to get them off it, the Union Leader reported.
The Ballot Law Commission acted unanimously in upholding Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s acceptance of all the candidates who filed for the primary ballot. Chairman Cook said the commission saw no reasons to challenge the declarations of candidacy for the presidential hopefuls in question. It did not consider or weigh in on the constitutional matters, Mr. Tuohy reported.
“You need a pretty convincing argument to deprive somebody of their place on the ballot,” Chairman Cook said. Cullen’s complain said Donald Trump “must present evidence that he is a registered member of the Republican Party because his views, expressed over decades, are inconsistent with the Republican Party platform and the Republican Party of New Hampshire’s statement of principles and bylaws.” Fergus Cullen’s 6-page complaint outlined Donald Trump’s flip-flops dating back to 1999, CBS News reported.
Cullen said he was there to warn that Donald Trump does not share our democratic values, which coincidentally happens to be the line being spun by Camp Kasich.
“He is a dangerous demagogue …” Cullen said, noting that he remains uncommitted to a candidate. The complaint itself, Mr. Cullen said, was filed not on behalf of anyone else, including Gov. Kasich or “New Day for America.”
Connie Wehrkamp, who has moved from state employment under Gov. Kasich to his presidential campaign team, tried to keep distance from Cullen but her explanation only links Mr. Cullen to Camp Kasich only fortifies the belief that they are working together.
“Like many other Republicans, we question Donald Trump’s conservative credentials and are happy to support Mr. Cullen’s efforts to challenge Trump’s standing on the New Hampshire Republican primary ballot,” Wehrkamp said, CBS reported. In fact, Gov. Kasich’s superpac was aware that Mr. Cullen would be filing the complaint before he did so.
Any reporter who knows how Camp Kasich works, knows that Mr. Cullen’s explanation that he did it all by himself is probably false. When Gov. Kasich and the Ohio Republican Party conspired together last year to keep LPO’s Charlie Earl off the ballot, a long-time friend and political operative for John Kasich, Terry Casey, offered a similar explanation for why he violated state campaign finance laws. Terry Casey said in a deposition that his efforts to keep Gov. Kasich’s path to reelection free of any obstacles were undertaken because he was a “self-starter.”
Emails gathered by Mark Brown, the attorney for Mr. Earl and LPO, showed that not only wasn’t Terry Casey a “self-starter,” he was involved with the leader of the ORP and some of Gov. Kasich’s top campaign officials. What’s known so far, is that Camp Kasich benefited from about $600,000 being spent on the scheme to dump Charlie Earl.
Corey Lewandowski, campaign manager for Trump, accused Fergus Cullen of working for Gov. John Kasich’s campaign.
“Number one, Mr. Trump’s views do comport with the Republican Party and number two, from a constitutional stand point, there is such a thing as freedom of speech,” Lewandowski said in a statement Monday night. “To file such a document against the person who is not only the frontrunner, but leading by tremendous margins is outrageous. If anything like this would ever happen Mr. Trump’s supporters would probably riot in the streets of New Hampshire. This is yet another attempt by the failed GOP establishment to keep Mr. Trump off the ballot because they know he is the only one who can make America great again.”
A Franklin County administrative judge could give John Kasich and his presidential team a real case of political heartburn if a case challenging the dismissal by the Ohio Elections Commission is sent back to OEC for further review.