Judge stops Chris Christie from participating in Maine's Republican primary ballot

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s latest bid to get on the Republican presidential primary ballot in Maine failed Thursday, as his campaign attempted to recoup from a surprise setback in the Super Tuesday state.

Christie’s campaign fell short of the required amount of validated signatures from Maine voters to qualify for the state’s Republican presidential primary earlier this month, according to the Maine Secretary of State’s office.

His campaign filed an appeal, but a Maine Superior Court judge sided with the secretary of state’s handling of the case on Thursday.

“We appreciate that the court upheld the integrity of Maine’s well-established ballot access requirements,” said Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows in a statement. “To qualify for the ballot, every candidate, including presidential candidates, must follow the law.” We are pleased that the court acknowledged that Maine law is practical and equitable to all.”

Judge stops Chris Christie from participating in Maine's Republican primary ballot

Christie’s campaign only handed in 844 of the 2,000 certified signatures required to appear on the ballot, according to Maine Director of Elections Heidi M. Peckham, in a letter earlier this month.

Candidates were required to get their signatures certified by local clerks before submitting them to the secretary of state’s office.

A Christie official responded at the time that the campaign had obtained 6,000 signatures, claiming that it was “simply a procedural issue with the way they reviewed signatures and is under appeal.”

However, Christie’s campaign’s arguments failed to sway the outcome of the Maine case.

Following the result, a representative for Christie’s campaign told CBS News, “We disagree with the court’s decision, and we are evaluating our options.”

Judge stops Chris Christie from participating in Maine's Republican primary ballot

According to Maine Superior Court Justice Julia M. Lipez’s decision, Christie “did not separate petition forms by town, as instructed by the Secretary, or, in the alternative, give himself sufficient time to bring those multi-town signature sheets to the relevant municipalities before the November 20 deadline.”

Christie can still run as a write-in candidate in Maine. According to the secretary of state’s office, the deadline is December 26.

The development is the latest setback for Christie’s campaign, which is under pressure to get out of the race and help rally support around an alternative candidate to former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner. Christie’s plan has been to bet everything on the Jan. 23 New Hampshire primary. His campaign has maintained that he has a plan after the election, but the difficulties in Maine threaten to undermine that tone.

Leading Republican presidential contenders, as well as several longshots, will be on the ballot in Maine on March 5. Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, billionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, and pastor Ryan Binkley are among them.

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