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Arkansas rules online news personality Cenk Uygur won't qualify for Democratic presidential primary

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Arkansas rules online news personality Cenk Uygur won't qualify for Democratic presidential primary
AP
ANDREW DeMILLO
December 04, 2023

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas election officials on Monday said online news personality Cenk Uygur, who was born in Turkey, can't appear on the state's Democratic presidential primary ballot next year.

The determination comes weeks after Uygur proclaimed that he had become the first naturalized citizen on a presidential ballot after filing paperwork with the state and the Arkansas Democratic Party. Uygur's parents immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey when he was 8.

“My office has received your candidate filing paperwork,” Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston said in a letter to Uygur. “However, based on your own proclamation, your are not qualified to hold the elected office for which you filed. Therefore, I cannot, in good faith, certify your name to the ballot."

The Constitution sets simple requirements for president: A candidate must be at least 35 years old and “a natural born citizen.”

Several other states, including the early primary states of New Hampshire and Nevada, also have rejected his application to appear on their ballots.

Uygur said officials were treating naturalized citizens as “second-class.” He has argued that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution makes him eligible to run for president.

“This is the last form of acceptable bigotry in American society and I’m going to fight it with every fiber of my being,” Uygur said in a statement. "I’m not going to accept that I don’t belong in my own country.”

Uygur, the co-creator of the online news and commentary show “The Young Turks,” announced in October he was challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. He previously made a failed bid for a California congressional seat.

Reed Brewer, a spokesman for the Arkansas Democratic Party, said based on past court rulings, the party didn't have authority to determine whether Uygur was eligible for the ballot.

“Because of the vagaries of state law, rejecting a filing is simply not an option for us,” Brewer said.

Brewer said he didn't know whether the party would refund Ugyur his $2,500 filing fee.

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