Four state Republican parties are looking at possibly scrapping their primaries and caucuses for 2020, giving President Trump a clear run in those states, and creating a new hurdle for primary challengers.
Politico first reported that Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina were expected to finalize their plans this weekend.
Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Shannon Golden told Fox News that it won’t organize a caucus for the 2020 election because Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party.
“Historically, we have never held a caucus if we have an elected incumbent Republican in the White House,” she said in an email. “We will be giving President Trump the same treatment we have given every elected Republican dating back to Abraham Lincoln.”
The Arizona and South Carolina parties noted in statements that both the GOP and Democrats have opted out of primaries and caucuses in recent history:
“This is nothing new, despite the media's inauthentic attempt to portray it as such, “Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward said. “Arizona Republicans are fired up to reelect President Trump to a second term and will continue to work together to keep America — and Arizona — great."
Nevada’s Republican Party also confirmed that it would be taking up a proposal to opt out of the caucus.
“Instead of wasting money on a caucus, the Nevada Republican Party’s central committee is going to vote on canceling it this weekend,” spokesman Keith Schipper said in a statement. “This is no different than what many states have done previously when an incumbent president is up for reelection. Making this change would allow us to save money and put it toward electing Republicans up and down the ballot next November.”
Such moves are sure to infuriate Trump’s long-shot party challengers, who say the local parties are trying to tip the race toward the president.
“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,” former Rep. Joe Walsh, who recently launched his campaign, 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.”
RNC officials told Politico that it had nothing to do with the state decisions.
“Donald Trump, by turns arrogant and paranoid, has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to be crowned as president rather than elected. That might be fine in a monarchy, but we overthrew ours two centuries ago,” tweeted former Mass. Gov. and primary challenger Bill Weld.
The push reflects a broader debate around how states hold their contests running up to the general election.
There was never a move to scrap the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House. State law mandates that New Hampshire hold the first presidential primary every four years.
But three of Trump’s top supporters in the Granite State made an initial push late last year for the state Republican Party to drop its decades-old neutrality clause in order to formally back the president in the primary against any challengers. Top GOP leaders in the state opposed the idea, and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu insisted that “the New Hampshire State Republican Committee must remain neutral in primaries.”
The ringleaders of the proposal to have the state party formally endorse Trump dropped their bid.
Because of the libertarian streak among New Hampshire Republicans, and the ability of independents – who make up roughly 40 percent of the state’s electorate – to vote in either the Republican or Democratic presidential primaries, the Granite State is considered the state where long-shot GOP candidates looking to challenge Trump for the party nod would try to make their stand.
Fox News' Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.