Sanders, Cruz receive first challenges to New Hampshire candidacy

Last modified: 11/13/2015 1:36:24 AM
Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are the first two presidential candidates to be challenged on their eligibility to file in the New Hampshire primary.

Sanders is being challenged on the basis of his longtime affiliation as an independent senator by little-known Republican presidential candidate Andy Martin. Cruz’s candidacy is being questioned by a Pennsylvania man named Carmon Elliott because the Texas senator was born in Canada.

Both appeals will be heard Nov. 24 by the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission, at which time Martin and Elliott must demonstrate their claims are legitimate.

“Until someone tells me otherwise, we are going to at least take these two matters up,” said commission chairman and Concord attorney Brad Cook.

While Cook said each challenge had “legitimate questions,” he added that it remains to be seen whether the two men can successfully represent their cases. Different things could hurt their cause, including the fact that Elliott is not a New Hampshire resident and that Martin is not a Democrat but is challenging a Democratic candidate.

Those factors will have to be evaluated by the commission before they take up either claim, Cook said.

Martin is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York and a New Hampshire resident. He is also the executive director of, a website questioning the legitimacy of President Obama’s U.S. citizenship, and dedicated to boycotting that state’s tourism and businesses “until Hawai’i state officials and school officials release President Barack Obama’s original 1961 typewritten birth certificate and other historic documents relating to the 44th president.”

Martin filed his challenge to Sanders on Thursday morning. He requested Sanders’s name be removed from the Democratic ballot “and that if he objects that a hearing be conducted by the Ballot Law Commission, at which time I shall appear to prosecute my complaint.”

Sanders’s New Hampshire spokesman, Karthik Ganapathy, said the campaign is “prepared to respond” and “confident” of his eligibility. When he filed last week, Sanders was flanked by his campaign lawyer Andru Volinsky and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley to vouch for him as a Democratic candidate.

“For our part, we’re going continue focusing less on arbitrary challenges that undermine the gravity of the New Hampshire primary, and more on the issues that affect everyday Americans: from income inequality to the appalling influence of corporations on our political process,” Ganapathy said.

This is also not the first time Elliott has contested a candidate’s right to file in New Hampshire; his letter to the ballot commission says he challenged Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008 because McCain was born on a U.S. Naval Base in Panama.

“I am a fellow citizen who has concerned himself with this issue of Constitutional Presidential eligibility out of a love for our Constitution,” Elliot wrote in his challenge to Cruz’s candidacy.

While other politicians born outside of the United States have been found eligible to run for office, the U.S. Supreme Court has never settled the constitutionality of the matter. Still, it ultimately may not matter for Cruz, who renounced his Canadian citizenship last year.

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