Chris Christie’s Presence on Maine’s Republican Primary Ballot Hangs in the Balance

Portland, Maine – December 2, 2023

Chris Christie's Presence on Maine's Republican Primary Ballot Hangs in the Balance

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may find himself excluded from the Republican primary ballot in Maine after falling short of the required 2,000 signatures from Maine voters, according to state officials’ announcement on Friday.

A letter from Maine’s Director of Elections, Heidi M. Peckham, revealed that Christie’s campaign only submitted “844 names certified by municipal registrars.” Candidates were mandated to file signatures with municipal clerks for certification before submitting them to the “Secretary of State’s office” by the 5 p.m. Friday deadline.

Christie now has a five-day window to appeal the decision in Maine Superior Court. A spokesperson for Christie’s campaign informed CBS News that although the campaign had collected and submitted over 6,000 signatures, the issue was deemed a procedural one in the signature review process and is currently under appeal.

As things stand, the lineup for Republican candidates on the GOP primary ballot includes “former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Pastor Ryan Binkley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.”

On the Democratic side, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who launched his campaign in late October, and President Biden will be featured on their party’s primary ballot. The primary contests are scheduled for March 5, 2024, also known as Super Tuesday, marking the day with the highest number of state primaries or caucuses during the election season.

This primary will be Maine’s first conducted under the new semi-open primary law, allowing unenrolled voters (those with no party affiliation) to participate in any party’s primary. However, if a voter is affiliated with a specific party, they must switch their affiliation 15 days before joining a new party and casting a ballot.

Unenrolled voters make up a significant portion of Maine’s registered voters, constituting over 28% in 2022, totaling 265,692 out of 929,017 voters, according to available state data.

Similar to neighboring New Hampshire, which also boasts a sizable independent voting block, Chris Christie has focused his campaign efforts on winning in the Granite State. The strategy hinges on appealing to independents, with Christie’s campaign manager, Maria Comella, outlining the plan in a memo to donors.

Comella emphasized the intention to position Christie as the clear alternative to Trump after the field naturally narrows. She highlighted several state primaries where independents can participate, suggesting that even in states Christie doesn’t win outright, he can secure delegates if Trump remains below the 50% threshold.

While Christie aims to gain ground in New Hampshire, the challenge in Maine poses a potential complication to this strategy, signaling uncertainties in the former governor’s path to securing the Republican nomination.

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