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How State Republican parties are stacking the deck for Trump’s renomination

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Terry H. Schwadron
Terry H. Schwadron

What is Donald Trump afraid of, besides a leaky Sharpie pen that may draw circles on weather maps by itself?

News that South Carolina’s Republican Party, not a group that I follow much, had called off the state’s primary election for next year is a reminder that Trump does not like playing fair.

As it happens, there are rules about these things, and the South Carolina folks may have violated their own rules and procedures just to ensure that Trump not face a primary with at least former governor and U.S. representative Mark Sandford of South Carolina. Sanford formally announced his anti-Trump campaign knowing about the tricks in his own state, as well as two other locally elected officials as challengers, and perhaps former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.

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The Republicans seem to so want to guarantee Trump’s re-election campaign so as to get rid of primary elections that might allow air to a challenger.

While Democratic candidates are busily filling multiple carfuls of candidates, the Republicans seem to so want to guarantee Trump’s re-election campaign so as to get rid of primary elections that might allow air to a challenger.

This is nuts, no? Isn’t this the opposite of democracy?

Of course, this kind of behavior seems to come easily to certain Republicans, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who won’t put guns legislation or election security bills on the floor without a hall pass from the president.

‘No Legitimate Challenger’

According to The Hill, the South Carolina party’s executive committee voted nearly unanimously to cancel the primary, state party chairman Drew McKissick said, because Trump had drawn “no legitimate primary challenger,” overlooking the three to date expressing interest. Any of those candidates may decide to sue the South Carolina GOP, some Republican insiders said, because Saturday’s vote ran contrary to the state party’s rules.

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The rule governing South Carolina’s presidential preference primary allows the state party to cancel the primary only by a vote at the state party convention, within two years of the subsequent primary. South Carolina Republicans did not vote to cancel the primary at either of its last two conventions. The rule gives the state Republican executive committee power to reverse a convention’s decision to cancel the primary if “circumstances surrounding the presidential election shall have substantially changed such that a primary would be deemed advisable.”

But it does not give the executive committee the opposite power—to unilaterally cancel the primary.

Pro-Trump State Party Leaders

As it turns out, Trump’s campaign has worked with several other state Republican parties to stymie the possibility of primary challengers in recent months, and to install pro-Trump leaders in state party roles.

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The Kansas Republican Party said Friday it would not hold caucuses next year. At least two other state parties are considering ending their caucuses rather than opening Trump to a potential challenge. Nevada threw in the towel on a Republican primary, too.

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