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Trump Has a New Hampshire Problem, Too--And No Guy from Vermont to Solve It

Recently, in view of the shortage of workers in the economy, Oregon got rid of the rule that drivers could not pump their own gas. That means that New Jersey is the last state left where the gas pumps are "hands off" for drivers. According to the linked article, not to mention polling on the matter, this is a source of much pride for Garden Staters.

This seems like a strange thing to be proud of, but it is what it is, and we point it out because it's an illustration of the fact that people tend to glom onto the things that make them, or their town, or their state, or their country, distinctive. And so, Joe Biden and the Democrats were rather unwise to try to take away New Hampshire's first-primary-in-the-nation status, which the New Hampshirites take considerably more seriously than the New Jerseyites take their gas pumping. Especially since the blue team chose a "replacement" state (South Carolina) that is not under Democratic control, so is not going to be changing to accommodate the desires of a Democratic president. This is why, as we wrote earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been dispatched to New Hampshire to help clean the mess up.

As it turns out, Donald Trump might well have a problem in New Hampshire, too, and there is not one thing that Sanders can do about it (not that he would, if he could). Democrats across the nation have noticed that Trump might not be eligible to run for president, per the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment. And, as chance would have it, some Republicans have noticed, too. Such is the case in New Hampshire, where the state GOP is hotly divided on the issue.

There are actually three different schools of thought (although, in some cases, there is overlap). The first "school" is represented by Republicans who just don't want Trump as their standard-bearer, for a variety of reasons. The second is personified by Republicans who would be OK with Trump, but who are nervous about sticking with him too long, only to have the rug yanked out from under them if he's declared ineligible mid-2024. These folks believe it might be best to pull the band-aid off now, and give the Party the opportunity to hold a real primary. And the third the third set of ideas is held by Republicans who claim to be highly principled (and may well be so), and who like Trump but also believe the Constitution is crystal clear on this matter.

In New Hampshire, the leader of the "maybe we better look elsewhere" faction is Bryant "Corky" Messner, who is not only a Trump voter but who also ran for the U.S. Senate in 2020, with Trump's endorsement, before losing to Jeanne Shaheen (D). Messner, who endorses the third school of thought, remarked, "I'm a constitutional conservative. The words say what they say." He's actually open to still supporting Trump, but he wants the former president to take the matter to court, and to get a judgment clarifying that he's OK to run.

There is no doubt that Messner's view is the minority position among the members of the New Hampshire GOP. However, it is not the party members, or even the party functionaries, who decide which names appear on the ballot. It is the state Secretary of State, in this case New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan (R). Scanlan has already been contacted by Messner (and by "there's no problem here" Republicans, like state GOP chair Chris Ager), and has said that he's looking at the matter and he's already solicited outside opinions.

Unless Trump drops dead, or his legal woes overtake him to the point that he drops out of the race, it is a certainty that somewhere (in fact, many somewheres), Trump's ballot eligibility will be challenged. But it's the first challenge that matters the most, because that one is likely to end up in the Supreme Court, and therefore is likely to answer the question for the rest of the country. This is one reason we mention the New Hampshire situation; by virtue of their early place in the primary voting line, and given that state officials are already looking into the matter, this could well become the test case.

The second reason we mention what is going on in the Granite State is that if it's a Republican who becomes the first to pull the trigger, that will significantly weaken arguments that this is some sort of Democratic-led/Biden-led deep state conspiracy. Trump would still claim that he's being victimized by deep-state RINO puppets, but we think that would impress very few people outside the base that's already voting Trump no matter what. If it's a Democratic SoS who pulls the trigger first, by contrast, the "political witch hunt" conspiracy theories will likely find a somewhat wider audience. (Z)

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