Carl "Trump" Nett

Carl Nett, a Republican, filed to run on the ballot as Carl “Trump” Nett, however, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes removed the nickname prior to certifying ballot names on Monday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A candidate for Kentucky Secretary of State is threatening a lawsuit if his proclaimed nickname of “Trump” is not put back on the ballot.

Carl Nett, a Republican, filed to run on the ballot as Carl “Trump” Nett, however, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes removed the nickname prior to certifying ballot names on Monday.

The removal comes after an opponent in the race filed a complaint alleging that the “Trump” nickname could help Nett in the May primary.

“This is subjective,” Nett said in an interview Monday. “It's not about claiming the president's endorsement or even endorsing the president, which I do. It’s simply about recognition and so voters are able to identify me as the guy they know or have heard about.”

According to statute, a candidate may use “a title, rank, degree, job description, or spurious phrase ... only if it is the candidate’s bona fide nickname.” To prove that, a candidate must submit affidavits of at least five residents from the same county as they are from claiming the same. Nett says he submitted seven.

“I'm in compliance with the statutes,” Nett said. “As of right now, the Secretary of State's office is not in compliance with the statues.”

Grimes says it was determined that Nett was trying to seek a political advantage on the ballot by using the nickname.

“…The Secretary of State’s Office determined that the candidate in question offered this so-called nickname in an improper attempt to gain an advantage on the ballot,” said a statement released Friday by Grimes’ office.

Nett says he’s been commonly referred to as “Trump” since 2015 when he was a member of a Jefferson County Republican party committee. He says after a disagreement about deciding to support then-candidate Trump, the nickname was conferred onto him with a negative connotation.

“I’ve had many Republicans express their distaste for the president, and tell me I would have had their (vote) but for the Trump nickname,” Nett said. “It’s possible we're losing votes, it's possible we're gaining votes. I don't know, that's not the point.”

Nett claims Grimes is violating the statute by removing the nickname in spite of him turning in the proper paperwork.

According to the statute, the candidate must also swear under oath via affidavit that the name is not being used to gain an advantage on the ballot. It does not outline a process via which a candidate can challenge or refute a complaint.

Nett says he was not aware of the change until Friday afternoon when it was tweeted by Insider Louisville.

A spokesperson for Grimes’ did not respond to a question regarding the legality of removing the name after affidavits had been filed.

Nett first made news last March for sending a threatening tweet to Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth. Nett  was not charged with a crime. He later apologized and deleted the tweet.

Nett says if the nickname is not placed back on the ballot by the end of the day Monday, he will sue.

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Travis Ragsdale joined WDRB in Jan. 2015. He focuses primarily on investigative reporting involving police, local government and infrastructure. He can be reached at 502-585-0817