Oregon’s Secretary of State announced Thursday that she does not have the authority to remove former President Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot. But will the same be said for the general election?
Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade said she has received “significant voter contact on this issue.”
Liberal groups have filed lawsuits in a few states to bar Trump from the ballot, citing a rarely used constitutional prohibition against holding office for those who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution but then “engaged in insurrection” against it. The two-sentence clause in the 14th Amendment has been used only a handful of times since the years after the Civil War. The lawsuits stem from Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Judges in Colorado, Michigan and Minnesota have already ruled that they will not disqualify Trump from the primary ballot.
Citing legal advice from the Oregon Department of Justice, Griffin-Valade said she lacks the power to disqualify a candidate in a presidential primary election because there is no set of qualifications for who can be considered at a party nominating convention.
“I will follow our usual process and expect to put Donald Trump on the primary ballot unless a court directs me otherwise,” Griffin-Valade said in a statement Thursday.
The statement reads that “State law treats presidential primary elections differently than other elections where the Secretary has the authority to disqualify a candidate. In a presidential primary, voters are not deciding who will hold office or even who will go on the general election ballot. Instead, they are communicating their preference to party delegates who choose a nominee at the party’s nominating convention.”
But there is this caveat in the statement. The decision applies only to the primary ballot, not the general election next November.
“I understand that people want to skip to the end of this story. But right now, we don’t even know who the nominee will be,” Griffin-Valade said. “When the general election comes, we’ll follow the law and be completely transparent with our reasoning.”
The first Republican nomination contests are in January. Trump is currently dominating his Republican opponents in the polls.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.