CV NEWS FEED // A former Senate candidate whom Trump backed three years ago is now behind a long-shot bid to disqualify the former president from the 2024 Republican primary ballot in New Hampshire.
Bryant “Corky” Messner was the Republican nominee for New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate race in 2020. At the time, he touted his support for then-incumbent President Donald Trump.
Messner is a lawyer, a West Point graduate, and a U.S. Army veteran. “I really don’t view myself as turning on Trump, as odd as that sounds,” Messner told ABC News. “I love this country. I’ve served this country. I’ve taken an oath to this country. My sons are serving right now and I believe someone’s got to step up to defend the Constitution.”
The part of the Constitution Messner is citing in his effort to disqualify the former president is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which explicitly bars anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the” United States from running for public office.
Messner’s argument hinges on the controversial narrative favored most by leading Democrats: that the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, was an “insurrection or rebellion against the” country, and that Trump “engaged” in it. The U.S. Senate acquitted Trump of those charges later in the month of January, 2021.
New Hampshire Republicans slammed Messner’s unusual challenge. State GOP Chair Chris Ager said it was “antithetical to [the state’s] ‘Live Free or Die’ tradition.” New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who has often been critical of the former president, nevertheless said he “doesn’t expect” Messner’s efforts to prove effective.
In 2020, then-President Trump endorsed Messner in a hard-fought Republican primary against retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc. Messner won the nomination by eight percentage points. He was then defeated in the general election by incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, in a landslide of nearly 16 points, running eight points behind Trump in the state.
In an interesting turn of events, Bolduc would win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire two years later (where he would lose to incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, by nine points) after running a campaign in which he closely tied himself to Trump. He has since endorsed former Ambassador Nikki Haley for the Republican presidential nomination next year.
While Messner’s challenge is notable as it comes from a former Trump ally, it is not the only attempt to scrub the 45th president’s name from the 2024 ballot.
As the Daily Wire reported Sunday,
Lawrence Caplan, a Florida tax attorney, became the first to challenge Trump’s candidacy for president in federal court last week, pointing to the Amendment’s “disqualification clause” that says those who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the government cannot hold office.
“The bottom line here is that President Trump both engaged in an insurrection and also gave aid and comfort to other individuals who were engaging in such actions, within the clear meaning of those terms as defined in Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Caplan wrote in a filing last week, challenging Trump’s eligibility to run for office again.
Notable attorneys on both sides of the aisle have defended Trump’s right to seek the presidency for a third consecutive time.
Jenna Ellis, who served on the former president’s legal team and is now facing her own prosecution as one of his co-defendants, took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to blast a recent article in The Atlantic that anti-Trump conservative judge J. Michael Luttig co-authored with left-wing law professor Laurence Tribe.
“The Left is purposefully calling J6 an ‘insurrection’ to justify a baseless 14th Amendment challenge,” Ellis wrote. “It’s like baselessly calling election challenges on behalf of a campaign ‘racketeering’ to justify a RICO charge.”
The conservative lawyer on Sunday stated that while she prefers Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican nomination, she believes that all conservatives should unite in opposition to Trump’s indictment and acknowledge he is being “unjustly and wrongly persecuted by a weaponized government in Georgia.”
“Principles are greater than politics, personalities, or candidates,” Ellis added. “Unity on principles matters to winning.”
During a recent interview, liberal Democratic attorney Alan Dershowitz called attempts to strike the former president’s name from the primary ballot a “grave danger.”
The 84-year-old celebrity lawyer argued that the efforts would “put the decision about who the President is in the hands of local Secretaries of State and Democratic governors, instead of in the hands of the people.”
Dershowitz also told The Daily Caller that it is unlikely that Trump would face a criminal trial before the 2024 election. “They’re trying to get convictions before the election … [but] they can’t get it done in two weeks, they know it will take longer than that.”
“It’s like asking a brain surgeon to perform an operation with three days’ notice,” he added.
Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law emeritus at Harvard Law School, where he taught for nearly 50 years. Despite his liberal pedigree, he is known for often dissenting with the majority of the political left on legal and constitutional matters. Politico has dubbed him “one of the most prominent and consistent defenders of civil liberties in America.”
His newest book, titled Get Trump: The Threat to Civil Liberties, Due Process, and Our Constitutional Rule of Law, was published earlier this year. In 2018, he penned the bestseller The Case Against Impeaching Trump.
In January 2020, following the then-Democratic-controlled House’s first impeachment of Trump, Dershowitz gave an impassioned defense of the then-sitting president in front of the Senate. Days later, the chamber voted to acquit Trump.