According to a new report from Politico, the “Never Trump” movement that hoped to challenge President Trump from the right with GOP primary candidates has flamed out and failed to gather sufficient support to mount a relevant challenge.
Republican Mark Sanford dropped out of the Presidential race in November and now Joe Walsh and Bill Weld have already given up key battleground states, failing to make the ballot.
Politico reports the “Never Trump” movement had once hoped to embarrass President Donald Trump in 2020 with a primary challenge that would expose the president’s weaknesses within his own party.
But Trump’s GOP opponents are failing to even get on the ballot in many states, let alone gain traction with Republican voters.
With the start of primary season just weeks away, Trump rivals Joe Walsh and Bill Weld are ceding an array of key battlegrounds. Walsh won’t be competing in more than half of the 30 states and territories whose filing deadlines have already passed, while Weld won’t be contending 12 of them. The latest blow came Wednesday, when the two missed the deadline to make the Virginia ballot, making Trump the sole contender.
It’s the latest reminder of Trump’s vice-like grip on the GOP — and how any hint of opposition within the party has been extinguished. Even before a single contest has been held, the president has already gone a long way toward securing renomination: He will be the only candidate on the ballot in nine states that collectively account for nearly one-third of the delegates needed.
Walsh and Weld have complained bitterly that several states have scrapped their primaries, calling it undemocratic and part of a broader effort to rig the nominating contest in Trump’s favor. Yet the challengers are missing out on opportunities to compete against the president, even in states where it’s relatively easy to qualify.
Neither Walsh nor Weld will be running in Kentucky, where candidates can qualify simply by paying $1,000, filling out a statement of candidacy form, and proving that they’re on the ballot in 20 other states. Walsh failed to get on the ballot in Louisiana, where it costs just $1,125. Weld won’t be running in Oklahoma, where a presidential aspirant only needs to cut a $5,000 check.
The two are also MIA in some of the country’s most delegate-rich battlegrounds. While Walsh, a former congressman, didn’t file in his home state of Illinois, Weld’s attempt to get on the Ohio ballot was rejected by election officials who said he didn’t meet the state’s requirements.
The Walsh and Weld campaigns say they’ve faced fierce resistance from pro-Trump state GOP organizations which are working to keep them from competing. They have been particularly frustrated by the Georgia and Minnesota Republican parties, which submitted only Trump’s name for the primary ballot.
“It became very clear very early in the process of gaining access to individual state ballots and caucuses that the Trump-controlled state party organizations would not be helpful to challengers,” said Weld spokesman Joe Hunter, adding that “some states have rendered it virtually impossible for any candidate other than the incumbent to qualify.”
Walsh campaign manager Lucy Caldwell called the opposition from the GOP apparatus “unprecedented.”
“When it comes down to it, we’re talking about millions of Republican voters who are having their say disenfranchised,” she said.
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