GOP candidate wants to be called “Trump!” on ballot. Judge says no.

“Trump” won’t be allowed on the ballot in an upcoming political race, but it’s not what it sounds like.

A judge ruled a Republican candidate for Kentucky secretary of state isn’t allowed to use the nickname “Trump” — or, as he originally wanted, “Trump!” — when he appears on a statewide ballot in May.

According to the judge’s ruling, Carl Nett requested to use the “Trump!” nickname when he filed his candidacy in November 2018. He said it was a “bona fide nickname” local Republicans gave him after he insisted on displaying materials supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at the 2015 Kentucky State Fair.

The elections director told Nett exclamation points aren’t allowed for ballot nicknames. So he crossed it out and settled for “Trump.”

That nickname was accepted, but another GOP contender objected in January, alleging Nett only wanted to use it for “political advantage.” That candidate threatened legal action if Nett’s “Trump” nickname made it to the primary ballot.

Kentucky law allows political candidates to have a nickname on ballots if they submit an affidavit stating it is a real nickname and not being used for leverage in the race. A former governor, Albert Benjamin Chandler, even won his race with the nickname “Happy.”

But the judge said there is not sufficient proof Nett is widely recognized as “Trump,” noting most of his campaign materials don’t include the nickname. The judge wrote other Republicans only gave Nett that nickname “in jest” and “mockingly.”

Nett is one of four Republicans running in the primary for secretary of state, the position that oversees Kentucky’s elections. His campaign did not immediately return messages from CBS News. On Twitter, Nett called the ruling “disappointing” and a result of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

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