By Alice Giordano
A former New Hampshire Senate candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump is now vowing to file litigation to keep the former president off the state’s primary ballot, a move that could lead to neither of the presidential frontrunners being on their party’s ticket in the key battleground state.
Bryant “Corky” Messner says the former president is not constitutionally qualified to serve again, based on the allegation that he incited the protests at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I believe in the Constitution, and I think someone needs to step up to make sure that the Constitution is, in fact, enforced,” said Mr. Messner, a Republican who lost his 2020 Senate bid to Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Mr. Messner plans to pursue a legal path to keep President Trump from being the GOP 2024 nominee, he told New Hampshire News Radio 610 WGIR-AM this week.
Mr. Messner, who won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate after an enthusiastic endorsement from President Trump, said the former president is disqualified to run under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The constitutional provision states, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof…”
Mr. Messner, who is a corporate attorney, did not respond to a request from The Epoch Times for further comment on his plans.
President Trump’s New Hampshire campaign senior adviser, Stephen Stepanek, also did not respond to inquiries from The Epoch Times.
Others recently floating the same idea for keeping President Trump off primary ballots in their states are fellow GOP contender and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“A number of legal scholars said President Trump is disqualified because of his actions on January 6,” Hutchinson said recently in a CNN interview.
If Mr. Messner’s bid is successful in New Hampshire, that would mean neither President Trump nor President Joe Biden would appear on the ballot in what has been recognized as the first-in-the-nation (FITN) primary state.
President Biden has said he would not acknowledge New Hampshire’s designated primary day unless it follows South Carolina’s newly designated first-in-the-nation primary status, as per his agenda to reorder the primary schedule.
New Hampshire politicians, including the all-Democrat Washington representatives, have made a bipartisan pledge to preserve their state’s FITN status.
Even Ms. Shaheen has denounced the move.
“I fear stripping New Hampshire of its long-held position could be consequential,” she told public radio NHPR in June.
Mr. Messner said his first move in his quest to keep President Trump off New Hampshire’s 2024 GOP primary ticket, is to ask New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan to update his office’s criteria to qualify for the presidency to include clarification that it indicates that anyone who violates Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment be disqualified.
He pointed out that Mr. Scanlan’s office only lists the requirements as established under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, that in order to be eligible for president, candidates must be natural-born citizens, at least 35 years of age, and have resided in the United States for at least 14 years.
“I’m calling on him to change that now,” said Mr. Messner.
Mr. Scanlan, a former Republican state representative, did not respond to requests for comment from The Epoch Times on Mr. Messner’s proposal.
Communications Director Anna Sventek told The Epoch Times that Mr. Scanlan met this morning with Mr. Messner. She said Mr. Scanlan has decided to confer with the New Hampshire Attorney General and other legal counsel on the issue.
“However, he believes any action taken under this constitutional provision will have to be based on judicial guidance,” said Mrs. Sventek.
Mr. Messner broached the idea two days before President Trump’s booking in Georgia on charges he interfered with the presidential election there, and just a few weeks after he was indicted on allegations of inciting an insurrection.
WGIR radio host Chris Ryan asked Mr. Messner if the same constitutional disqualifications could be applied to President Biden if someone deemed him to be a socialist and, therefore, violating the Constitution.
“Can you just basically arbitrarily determine whether a person is, you know, violating the Constitution?” asked Mr. Ryan, “That seems kind of outlandish too.”
While there is no explicit clause against socialism in the U.S. Constitution, some constitutional analysts, such as the Human Prosperity Project, have asserted that the constitutional mandates for a centralized government and separation of powers were intended to prohibit socialism.
Several political analysts have said the absence of President Trump on the ballot could translate into a catastrophically low turnout for Republican voters.
“The conventional wisdom is there’s concern that if Trump’s not the nominee, his coalition will take their ball and go home,” Matt Dole, a Republican strategist, told The Hill earlier this month.
Democrats have predicted what the party sees as its own catastrophe if President Biden’s name does not appear on the New Hampshire ballot. Party leaders have warned that a Biden absence could potentially hand challenger Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a victory over the incumbent president.
Some Democrats and Republicans have indicated they have already decided to vote for Kennedy, who has taken conservative stands against such issues as gender-affirming ideology in schools and banning vaccine mandates.
Mr. Messner is a partner in the Denver-based business law firm Messner Reeves LLP. He lists corporate and real estate as his specialty.
A month before New Hampshire voters had to choose between Mr. Messner and Ms. Shaheen, The Associated Press ran a story that the law firm had represented the Chinese government against an American tire maker.
Just two weeks before the elections, several top aides resigned from the Messner campaign, telling Manchester WMUR-TV, “Unfortunately, we reached a place in which we did not agree on most things.”