President Donald Trump has taken control of the Republican Party in every state he needs to win next year, after enduring 2016 power struggles in important battlegrounds like Ohio and New Hampshire.
The Republican National Committee passed a resolution in January declaring “undivided support” for the president after merging the party and Trump’s re-election campaign, and Florida's GOP chairman said the state party there was essentially a regional arm of the campaign, reported the New York Times.
“I’ve had probably 10 conversations with the Trump team about the delegate selection process in Florida,” said Joe Gruters, who was co-chair of Trump's 2016 campaign in Florida and now leads the state GOP. “The base of the party loves our president, and if anybody runs against him, they are going to get absolutely smashed.”
At least three Republicans -- Maryland governor Larry Hogan, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and former Ohio governor John Kasich -- are considering primary challenges to the president, but the campaign has already tasked aides with making sure all delegates at next year's convention are committed to Trump.
“There is no challenge to the president,” said John Watson, a former Kasich supporter who now leads the Georgia Republican Party. “The party is in near-unanimous lock step in support of him, certainly at the activist and delegate level.”
Trump’s top campaign aides Bill Stepien and Justin Clark have methodically boosted the president's allies even in deep-blue states like Massachusetts, and have tried to broker peace between competing pro-Trump factions in other states.
“The key is that we make sure that the voters of Colorado understand the great job the president has done,” said Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who claimed victory in a power struggle to run Colorado's state GOP. “That is what my job is.”
The Trump campaign has targeted GOP governors critical of the president, and RNC officials say potential challengers would face a steep climb if they launched a primary campaign.
“No other candidate, no matter if it’s Gov. Hogan, Bill Weld or anybody else, will get one single delegate out of Maryland,” said David Bossie, the state’s RNC committeeman and a close advisor to the president.
Some traditional GOP donors have not yet committed to backing the president in 2020, but RNC officials warned that Trump critics weren't welcome in the party.
“If you know any Never Trumpers,” said Vera Ortegon, Colorado's RNC committeewoman, “send them to me.”