Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas are planning to scrap their primaries and caucuses to help pave the way for President Donald Trump to skate to the nomination.
After several Republicans jumped into the primary race and reports of others considering following suit, the four states are expected to finalize their plans to cancel their nominating contests by this weekend, three Republican officials told Politico.
The move further illustrates Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. He previously effectively merged his campaign with the Republican National Committee.
Trump advisers told Politico that parties of incumbent presidents have canceled primary contests in the past but anti-Trump Republicans are calling it an effort to rig the contest.
Joe Walsh cries foul:
Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh complained about the move after he launched his primary challenge last month.
“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 told Politico. “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.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who was Trump’s first primary challenger, also blasted 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.
Republicans defend decision as cost-cutting move:
Officials in Nevada and Kansas told Politico the move would save the party money, because the GOP has to pay for the caucuses in those states.
“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,” said Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald. “We should be spending those funds to get all our candidates across the finish line instead.”
Kansas GOP Chairman Michael Kuckelman estimated it would have cost the party $250,000 to hold a caucus.
Republicans also noted that Democrats have canceled primaries in Arizona in 1996 and 2012 and canceled the Kansas caucus in 96.
South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick added that the state did not hold a Republican primary in 1994 or 2004 nor a Democratic primary in 1996 and 2012.
“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.