Arizona GOP poised to cancel presidential primary

Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Fountain Hills in 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

President Donald Trump won’t have to worry about the longshot candidates seeking to wrest the Republican nomination from him next year, at least not in Arizona and a handful of other states.

Politico reported on Friday that the Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina Republican parties are expected to finalize plans this weekend to scrap their 2020 presidential primaries. Arizona’s presidential preference election is scheduled for March 17. 

At the request of the Arizona Republican Party, GOP lawmakers included a provision in the state budget earlier this year allowing political parties to opt out of the presidential primary. Parties have until Sept. 16 to provide notice to the Secretary of State’s Office. A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said the AZGOP has not yet submitted such notice.

The moves in Arizona and other states to cancel their presidential primaries come as Trump faces multiple challenges from fellow Republicans, though none that are expected to pose a serious threat to his re-nomination. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld announced in April that he would challenge Trump for the Republican nomination, while radio host and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh announced in August that he’ll challenge Trump as well. 

There is precedent for state political parties to cancel their primaries when incumbent presidents are up for re-election, though it usually happens only in cases in which they aren’t facing primary challenges.

Arizona Republican officials noted to Politico that the state’s Democratic Party canceled its presidential primaries for Barack Obama in 2012 and Bill Clinton in 1996. Other states did the same for Obama and Clinton, Ronald Reagan in 1984 and George W. Bush in 2004. Politico reported that the most comparable incident to the 2020 primaries was in 1992, when first-in-the-nation Iowa and several other states canceled Republican primaries as a response to Pat Buchanan challenging incumbent George H.W. Bush for the GOP nomination.



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