Republicans in four states have already canceled their primaries, ignoring three primary challengers.
The Republican Party of Minnesota has selected Donald Trump as the winner of next year's GOP primary. To do this, it simply decided to leave his three primary challengers off the ballot entirely and give voters only Trump's name as a choice.
In a letter last week to the Minnesota Secretary of State, state party chair Jennifer Carnahan announced her party's "determination of candidates," the Star Tribune reported on Thursday. The list excluded former Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC), former Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA), and former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), leaving Trump as the sole option. The party also declined to ask that write-ins or requests for uncommitted delegates be made an option, effectively making Trump the winner before a single Minnesotan has cast a vote. By state law, the party cannot change the list of candidates once it's submitted.
Carnahan made no bones about her aims. "President Trump is extremely popular in Minnesota and my job as Chairwoman is to make sure we deliver our 10 electoral votes to the President on November 3, 2020," she said in a statement.
The Minnesota GOP is by the latest state Republican Party working to rig its 2020 selection process for Trump. In at least four states — Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina — Republicans have scrapped their primaries entirely in favor of the incumbent. Typically, state parties only cancel their contests if there is just one real candidate.
In Michigan, party officials significantly increased the thresholds for a candidate to win any delegates, all but assuring every Michigan delegate goes to Trump. In May, Georgia also changed its state nominating convention rules to make it almost impossible for non-Trump candidates to receive delegates.
According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report earlier this month, these party maneuvers are no coincidence. "President Donald Trump’s campaign helped orchestrate rule changes at party conventions in dozens of states, including Georgia, to weaken a potential GOP insurrection before it can start," the paper noted. "Three senior Trump campaign officials said on a conference call Monday that they pressed party officials in 37 states to make it harder for a Republican primary opponent to emerge at the nominating convention in Charlotte in August 2020."
During the 2016 campaign, Trump frequently complained — without evidence — that the system was "rigged" against him. He also has repeatedly alleged that the Democratic nomination process was rigged against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Sanford told the Star Tribune that he believes party leaders are worried that Trump is not as popular as they claim. He denounced the maneuvering, saying, "The idea that we're taking our cues from North Korea or the Soviet Union in terms of voter access and voter participation just seems weird to me."
Walsh announced that he would soon travel to Minnesota to "raise hell" over the decision. "One person. In one state. Just disenfranchised every Republican voter in that state. This isn’t America. This can't be allowed to stand."
Trump claimed without citation on Tuesday that he currently enjoys a 95% approval rating in the Republican Party, which he called "a record." If this is true, it's unclear why the GOP would need to rig the process so he can easily win all or nearly all the delegates in an open process.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.