State GOP Looks To Clear Nomination Path For Trump By Canceling Primary

Arizona Republicans rally for the Trump-Pence ticket just days before the 2016 election in this file photo. The state GOP may do away with its presidential preference primary in 2020 so President Donald Trump would not have to go through a primary challenge in the state. (Photo by Keerthi Vedantam/Cronkite News)

By Megan U. Boyanton

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s road to renomination could get easier through Arizona, with the state Republican Party looking to join three other states and drop its presidential primary next year.

One analyst turned his nose up at state Republicans who “don’t want to go through the process of actually allowing people to vote,” but few others seemed to be surprised by the move – and most greeted it with a shrug.

“Why spend the money on something when you know what the outcome will be?” said Mike Noble, a political consultant with Scottsdale-based MBQF Consulting.

Noble said the only current Republican challengers – former congressman and talk-show host Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld – cannot realistically compete against Trump. He said canceling the primary is “fiscally prudent.”

Published reports said Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina are set to cancel their 2020 presidential primaries or caucuses as well. Party officials in Kansas and Nevada could not be reached for comment Friday, but South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick treated it as a routine move.

“There is strong precedent on the part of both parties to not hold a primary when they control the White House,” McKissick said in a statement released by the party.

Defending the incumbent is hardly new: Arizona’s GOP did it in 2004 for George W. Bush and state Democrats did the same in 1996 for Bill Clinton and 2012 for Barack Obama.

Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward said in a statement Friday that “Arizona Republicans are fired up to re-elect President Trump to a second term.” Requests for further comment from the party were not returned.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a photo illustration from 2016, when he beat her by just 3.5 percentage points in Arizona. (Photos by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office said in an email that the party has until Sept. 16 to notify the office that it intends to withdraw from the presidential primary, but that notification had not been received as of Friday.

Grant Woods, who was a Republican when he was elected Arizona’s attorney general in the 1990s, said in an email that he is not thrilled by the possibility of a canceled primary.

“There is not much Republican left in the Republican Party,” said Woods, who left the party and registered as a Democrat last year. “It’s no surprise that they don’t want to go through the process of actually allowing people to vote.”

Woods said he hopes that alienated Republicans will support a moderate Democratic candidate instead.

An official with the Arizona Democratic Party said “we’re not too concerned” by a possible GOP cancellation of its primary, saying it would not change the way Democrats plan to campaign.

“A lot of folks in Arizona are going to be disappointed,” said Matt Grodsky, the acting communications director for the state Democrats, “and will continue to be disappointed by decisions that the Republican Party and Donald Trump make in the next year.”

An August poll by OH Predictive Insights, where Noble is chief of research and managing partner, said Trump’s disapproval rating in Arizona has climbed to 52 percent. But a national survey the same month by Monmouth University Polling Institute found that 84 percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s job in office.

Dave Wells, a political science professor at Arizona State University, said it’s too early to accurately predict what will happen in the state. He agreed that Walsh and Weld were unlikely to fare well, but said a Republican with better name recognition – like 2016 presidential candidate and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich – might stand a chance.

Wells did predict, however, that Arizona Republicans will support the cancellation of the primary without “much blowback.” And he said Arizona could play a decisive role in the election, particularly if younger voters turn out.

“There’s a clear split in the electorate age-wise,” he said. “People who are under 40 are heavily going to vote Democratic in Arizona. And the people who are older than 40 will vote for Trump – I don’t know to what degree.”

But he noted that predictions can be a tricky business with this administration.

“Everything with Trump is unprecedented,” Wells said.


  1. No doubt DT will get the Republikook nomination, but what’s wrong with debating the issues his challengers would raise on the GOP side? What are you-all afraid of? Is it because the tariffs have wiped out the tax break for working people and raised the real chance of a recession, or because DT is shamelessly funneling our tax dollars to his hotels and resorts, or maybe his constant shuffling of staff and cabinet as they get fed up and leave, or maybe it’s Government by Tweet with all the, to be charitable, misstatements…or maybe it’s the wannabe dictator on public display. I didn’t vote for him, nor for the Dimocrat, but I will vote for whoever has a chance to beat him and save our democracy. Make America Sane Again!

  2. Please explain with facts why President Trump is a weak incumbent. We know what your opinion is, and you are entitled to your opinion. By weak, do you mean no one on the left has a chance to beat him? By weak do you mean that his policies are benefiting all Americans? By weak do you mean that unemployment numbers for all Americans, and especially minorities are at all time lows. There are at least 8 definitions in my dictionary about what weak is, and I can say that they apply more to all 20+ democrat candidates, but not President Trump.

  3. Well it does make sense in that there have NOT been any ANNOUNCED candidates other than a few real idiots who have no standing within their own states or the party. The only ones are the democraps who cannot even find a way to support their own unqualified types who are running and have no clue as to what they are saying.

    So save a few $$ and dont, if the democraps did it before why stand against it now? If I remember did bot bho hint about a 3d term? And he was a crap politician now in the news for defrauding people with his lies.

  4. The erosion of democracy continues…. What are they afraid of, and what were Bush, Clinton and Obama afraid of? That people might express disagreement and dissatisfaction? No, a free ride is better than a debate for a weak incumbent. Will the next step be, as the president has repeatedly “joked,” simply to cancel the 2020 election and stay in for a third and fourth term? MASA! Make America Sane Again!

    • C’mon Al, you and most of us know that President Trump is going to get the nomination again and no one, I mean no one else stands a chance. The American people are happy with Trump, the democratic leftist politicians and their minions are the only ones not.
      Trump has done a lot for the American citizens, only you all and the media seem to dismiss or just blatantly ignore the good he’s done, mainly because you just don’t like him. The democrats would sell this country down the tubes just to make Trump look bad, and the heck with the country.

      • Hey Aric, I’m not a Democrat and I’m an American and I’m not happy with Trump. He is not a clear thinker and he makes decisions based off of emotion… not good qualities in a leader.

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