RALEIGH – This week rumors have circulated that the N.C. Republican Party was working on behind-the-scenes efforts to keep Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump off the state’s ballots should he become a third-party candidate. The party issued a statement today to clarify its position.
N.C. GOP Chairman Hasan Harnett said, “The press is trying to create a story by reporting rumors and hearsay. I was unaware of any staff meetings regarding Mr. Trump’s candidacy in North Carolina. In fact, North Carolina State law already deals with the issue at hand and the NCGOP has no intention of restricting or preventing any legitimate Republican candidate from running in North Carolina. We will have a fair primary election and I welcome all presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, to our great state.”
In South Carolina, the home of the first presidential primary in the South, the S.C. GOP issued a press release Tuesday that confirmed that they ask all Republican candidates to sign a “loyalty pledge” as part of the presidential primary filing form. In essence, it says that they will not run as third-party candidates if they do not receive the majority of party support in the state. The pledge is an effort to prevent a third-party presidential candidate from splitting the state’s Republican vote.
“South Carolina candidates for state and local office must sign a similar pledge,” the S.C. GOP statement read. “All candidates must ‘hereby affirm that I generally believe in and intend to support the nominees and platform of the Republican Party in the November 8, 2016 general election.’ Thus far, four candidates have signed the pledge and filed for South Carolina’s February 20, 2016 Republican Primary (Rubio, Bush, Kasich, Carson).”
The N.C. GOP says it has not considered such a pledge, saying that North Carolina state law addresses the issue without it. Under North Carolina state law, (NCGS 1630213.6), “The State Board of Elections shall forthwith contact each person who has been nominated by the board or by petition and notify him in writing that his name will be printed as a candidate of a specified political party on the North Carolina presidential preference primary ballot. A candidate who participates in the North Carolina presidential preference primary of a particular party shall have his name placed on the general election ballot only as a nominee of that political party.”