Sep 7, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump's GOP challengers squeezed out of primaries in Kansas, South Carolina

This image is a two-way split screen of Joe Walsh and Bill Weld.

Joe Walsh and Bill Weld. Photos: Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call and Tom Williams/Roll Call

Kansas and South Carolina's Republican parties shuttered their 2020 presidential primaries on Friday and Saturday, respectively, the AP reports.

The big picture, via Axios' White House editor Margaret Talev: Early on, President Trump's campaign team studied the patterns of past presidents who lost re-election and sought to avoid their mistakes. Trump is using the tools he has now to minimize primary challenges so that he can save his money and energy to focus on the general election.

Why it matters: The chances of Trump's only 2 current GOP challengers — Rep. Joe Walsh and former Gov. Bill Weld — being able to build support in these states will be formally constricted. Republican parties in Arizona and Nevada intend to follow Kansas and South Carolina's lead, the New York Times reports, citing 3 people familiar with the states' plans.

What's next: "States that do not hold primaries still choose delegates, often by holding a convention," the Times reports. Nevada has scheduled meetings on Saturday to determine the fate of their primary and Arizona's decision is expected later in September, per the AP.

What they're saying: Walsh compared the president to a "mob boss" for the states' decisions to remove primaries, in an interview with the NYT and on Twitter. Weld told the Times that the move to close primaries "is something that would be appropriate in a monarchy.”

  • “These are decisions made entirely by state parties, and there are volumes of historical precedents to support them,” Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesperson, told the NYT. “Nevertheless, President Trump will dominate and prevail in whatever contest is placed before him.”
  • "The Kansas Republican Party will not organize a Caucus for the 2020 election because President Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party," the Kansas GOP said in a statement on Friday.

Go deeper: More Republicans than Democrats leaving Congress before 2020 election

Go deeper