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Lawmaker: If Trump is off ballot in AZ, so is Biden

A Marana lawmaker wants to ensure that if Donald Trump is knocked off the Arizona ballot, the same would happen to Joe Biden.

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- A Marana lawmaker wants to ensure that if Donald Trump is knocked off the Arizona ballot, the same would happen to Joe Biden.

The proposal by Republican Rep. Cory McGarr spells out that if the nominee for president from either major party is disqualified from the 2024 ballot, then the name of the other party's choice "shall not be printed on the ballot in this state.''

And if it's too late to keep the name off the ballot, the legislation says that "any votes for that nominee or that nominee's electors shall not be tallied or included in any canvass.''

In essence, HB 2786 is a form of "mutually assured destruction.'' It sends the message to those who would seek to disqualify Trump that if they are successful, it won't help the Democratic nominee.

And in that case, neither the Republican or Democrat nominees would get the state's 11 electoral votes in November.

The proposal comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether to uphold a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court declaring that the former president is unqualified to run for office.

That is based on the state court's decision that Trump had violated a provision of the 14th Amendment which bars federal office to those who engaged in "insurrection'' against the United States. The state justices said that the actions by Trump in trying to overturn the 2020 election fit the definition.

In December, McGarr issued a press release saying he would introduce legislation to completely bar Biden from the ballot.

"Democrats' insane justification to remove Trump can just as easily be applied to Joe Biden for his 'insurrection' at the southern border and his alleged corrupt family business dealings with China,'' McGarr said in a joint statement with Pennsylvania state Rep. Aaron Bernstine and Charlice Byrd, a state representative from Georgia.

Both also said they planned similar legislation in their states.

"Colorado radicals just changed the game and we are not going to sit quietly while they destroy our Republic,'' the trio said.

McGarr never introduced such legislation in Arizona.

But what he did file is an amendment to existing laws about qualifications of candidates to the ballot. It is designed to deter further efforts to knock Trump off the

Arizona ballot. It says that if Trump cannot get the state's 11 electoral votes, then neither could Biden.

There has been at least one legal bid here to disqualify Trump.

But it was not by a Democrat. It was filed by Texas resident John Castro, who has mounted his own legal bid to become the Republican nominee and will be among the nine Republican names on the March 19 Arizona presidential preference election ballot.

In his federal court lawsuit, Castro made the same legal arguments about Trump's role in the days up to and including the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol as the ones heard by -- and later approved -- by the Colorado Supreme Court.

In this case, however, U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Rayes did not even bother to go to the merits of what Castro was claiming. He concluded that Castro lacks standing because his presidential campaign is not really serious, even though his name is on the Arizona ballot.

"It does not convince the court that Castro is genuinely competing with Trump for votes or competition, or that he has any chance or intent to prevail in that election,'' Rayes wrote in his 12-page ruling.

Instead, the judge concluded the only reason Castro is running was to give him legal standing to pursue his claims in Arizona and other states -- he filed at least 27 -- that Trump is barred from being president based on what happened in and around Jan. 6.

For the moment, there appear to be no other legal challenges to Trump's candidacy, at least in Arizona, though that could change depending on what the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately rules. McGarr's legislation is designed to deter such future litigation.

McGarr, for his part, refused to answer any questions about the legislation.

And it does leave at least one.

His legislation covers only disqualification of the candidates of the two largest political parties.

None of that, however, would affect the presidential contenders of the other parties that are recognized in Arizona. And if HB 2786 is triggered, that means Arizona's 11 electoral votes could go to whomever among the Libertarian, Green or No Labels party candidates -- or any independent who qualifies for the ballot -- who gets the most votes among them.

McGarr is not alone in seeking that change in state law. There are 15 other House Republicans signed on as co-sponsors.

The measure is assigned to the House Committee on Municipal Oversight and Elections. But Rep. Jacqueline Parker, who chairs the panel -- and is not one of the signers -- has yet to schedule a hearing.

On X and Threads: @azcapmedia

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