(PartiallyPolitics.com) – The Maine Legislature, dominated by Democrats, recently voted against a Republican-led initiative to impeach the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows. This effort was in response to Bellows’ unprecedented action of removing former President Trump from the ballot due to his involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
The state House rejected the impeachment motion against Bellows with an 80-60 vote along party lines. Bellows had previously described the Republican move as merely “political theater” while affirming her commitment to abide by any legal developments related to her decision to exclude Trump from Maine’s March 5 primary.
This move by Bellows marked a historic first, as she became the only secretary of state to ever disqualify a presidential candidate by invoking the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause. Trump’s legal team promptly appealed her decision, which is now under review by Maine’s Superior Court.
Republicans in Maine have strongly criticized Bellows’ ruling as a form of “election interference,” expressing concerns that it disenfranchises voters. State Rep. James Thorne, a Republican from Carmel, commented to The Associated Press that Bellows’ decision exacerbates the political division within Maine and between the parties. State Rep. Michael Soboleski of Phillips went further, labeling it as “election interference of the highest order.” State Rep. Katrina Smith, another Republican from Palermo, argued that Bellows, who is neither a judge nor a jury, has made a decision that leaves people feeling disenfranchised, especially as there has been no legal conviction.
The likelihood of the impeachment effort succeeding was slim, given the Democratic majority in both chambers of the Maine Legislature.
In the broader context of the 2024 presidential election, Maine holds significant importance. It is one of only two states that split their electoral votes, with four up for grabs. Trump, who remains a prominent figure in the GOP, had previously secured one of Maine’s electoral votes in each of his presidential campaigns. Colorado is the only other state that has removed Trump from the ballot, and that decision is currently being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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