As we’ve noted time an again, one of the amazing things about having Donald Trump in office is watching people take an action that would not be controversial at all and raise it to the level of a constitutional crisis. A new one has emerged as several states GOP party organizations are in the process of cancelling their primary election.
Four states are poised to cancel their 2020 GOP presidential primaries and caucuses, a move that would cut off oxygen to Donald Trump’s long-shot primary challengers.
Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas are expected to finalize the cancellations in meetings this weekend, according to three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans.
The moves are the latest illustration of Trump’s takeover of the entire Republican Party apparatus. They underscore the extent to which his allies are determined to snuff out any potential nuisance en route to his renomination — or even to deny Republican critics a platform to embarrass him.
Elections are expensive. State parties must underwrite the cost of primary elections. There is no challenger for Trump (no I don’t consider either Weld or Bill Kristol’s sock puppet as challengers). But, the people running a grift off of allegedly opposing Trump’s renomination are incensed:
“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,” said former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who recently launched his primary campaign against the president. “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,” Walsh added. “We also intend to loudly call out this undemocratic bull on a regular basis.”
But is this a big deal to anyone who isn’t trying to scab free meals from campaign donations? Apparently, not.
The shutdowns aren’t without precedent. Some of the states forgoing Republican nomination contests have done so during the reelection bids of previous presidents. Arizona, GOP officials there recalled, did not hold a Democratic presidential primary in 2012 [note: 15 states, including New York and Florida, did not hold a Democrat primary in 2012], when Barack Obama was seeking a second term, or in 1996, when Bill Clinton was running for reelection. Kansas did not have a Democratic primary in 1996, and Republican officials in the state pointed out that they have long chosen to forgo primaries during a sitting incumbent’s reelection year.
South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick noted that his state decided not to hold Republican presidential primaries in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was running for reelection, or in 2004, when George W. Bush was seeking a second term. South Carolina, he added, also skipped its 1996 and 2012 Democratic contests.
“As a general rule, when either party has an incumbent president in the White House, there’s no rationale to hold a primary,” McKissick said.
Perhaps the closest comparison to the present day is 1992, when George H.W. Bush was facing a primary challenge from conservative commentator Pat Buchanan. Several states that year [note: by my count 11] effectively ditched their Republican contests, including Iowa, which has long cast the first votes of the presidential nomination battles.
So this isn’t actually an unprecedented take over of the party apparatus by a sitting president who is actually the head of his party? It is something that happens every time a president runs for reelection? A skeptic would wonder why this is even a story.
The reason the GOP exists is not to provide fodder for 24-hour news channels and political blogs. They exist to elect candidates. State parties are under no legal, moral, or ethical obligation to give attention to self-promoters who have little to no interest in advancing party goals and are in it for self-aggrandizement.
If Walsh 2020 catches fire rather than self-immolates, these few states don’t make a difference. If he ends up, as I suspect, a Wikipedia footnote, they don’t make a difference. The only reason Politico or anyone else is even paying any attention to the is OrangeManBad.