At least four states are planning to cancel Republican presidential primaries and caucuses in their respective states, according to GOP sources who spoke to Politico.
The four states — South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas — are planning to scrap their Republican presidential primaries and caucuses, a move that is not uncommon when an incumbent president is seeking re-election. Critics, however, believe the GOP is attempting to protect Trump from potentially inconvenient situations.
As Politico reported:
Trump advisers are quick to point out that parties of an incumbent president seeking reelection have a long history of canceling primaries and note it will save state parties money. But the president’s primary opponents, who have struggled to gain traction, are crying foul, calling it part of a broader effort to rig the contest in Trump’s favor.
The cancellations stem in part from months of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the Trump campaign. Aides have worked to ensure total control of the party machinery, installing staunch loyalists at state parties while eliminating potential detractors. The aim, Trump officials have long said, is to smooth the path to the president’s renomination and ensure he doesn’t face the kind of internal opposition that hampered former President George H.W. Bush in his failed 1992 reelection campaign.
Trump aides said they supported the cancellations but stressed that each case was initiated by state party officials.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) and former Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA) have launched longshot primary bids against the president and both are incensed by the decision of these states.
Walsh said the decision is “wrong” and added that the Republican National Committee (RNC) should “be ashamed of itself,” despite the RNC insisting it played no part in the decisions made by the individual states.
“Trump and his allies and the Republican National Committee are doing whatever they can do to eliminate primaries in certain states and make it very difficult for primary challengers to get on the ballot in a number of states,” Walsh said in a statement.
It’s wrong, the RNC should be ashamed of itself, and I think it does show that Trump is afraid of a serious primary challenge because he knows his support is very soft.
Primary elections are important, competition within parties is good, and we intend to be on the ballot in every single state no matter what the RNC and Trump allies try to do. We also intend to loudly call out this undemocratic bull on a regular basis.
Weld, who has called Trump a “raging racist” in the past, also released a statement decrying the decision.
“We don’t elect presidents by acclamation in America. Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better,” he said, according to Politico.
Party officials in Nevada have stressed that the decision is rooted in costs.
“It would be malpractice on my part to waste money on a caucus to come to the inevitable conclusion that President Trump will be getting all our delegates in Charlotte,” Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald told Politico.
“We should be spending those funds to get all our candidates across the finish line instead,” McDonald added.
“As a general rule, when either party has an incumbent president in the White House, there’s no rationale to hold a primary,” South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick echoed, according to Politico.
This is far from the first time individuals states have made such decisions. Arizona, for instance, did not hold a Democrat primary when former President Obama sought re-election in 2012. It also did the same for former President Bill Clinton in 1996.
Trump recently mocked his challengers, calling them — including former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who has been teasing a run — “The Three Stooges.”
“Can you believe it? I’m at 94% approval in the Republican Party, and have Three Stooges running against me. One is ‘Mr. Appalachian Trail’ who was actually in Argentina for bad reasons,” Trump tweeted late August.
“Another is a one-time BAD Congressman from Illinois who lost in his second term by a landslide, then failed in radio,” he contined. “The third is a man who couldn’t stand up straight while receiving an award. I should be able to take them!”:
….Another is a one-time BAD Congressman from Illinois who lost in his second term by a landslide, then failed in radio. The third is a man who couldn’t stand up straight while receiving an award. I should be able to take them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2019