COLUMBIA, S.C. — Republican leaders in Nevada, South Carolina and Kansas have voted to scrap their presidential nominating contests in 2020, erecting more hurdles for the long-shot candidates challenging President Donald Trump.
“What is Donald Trump afraid of?” asked one of those rivals, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.
Canceling primaries, caucuses and other voting is not unusual for the party of the White House incumbent seeking a second term. Doing so allows Trump to try to consolidate his support as Democrats work to winnow their large field of candidates.
A spokesman for the South Carolina Republican Party, Joe Jackson, confirmed that the state party voted Saturday against holding a presidential primary next year. A similar move followed in Nevada, where party spokesman Keith Schipper said, “The vote to opt out of the caucus has passed. We will vote to endorse and bind the delegates to the president at a later date.”
In Kansas, the state GOP tweeted on Friday that it will not organize a caucus “because President Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party.” Its state committee planned to approve rules for an “internal party process” for selecting convention delegates, according to Kelly Arnold, the party’s former state chairman, and Helen Van Etten, a member of the Republican National Committee.
Weld, in a statement, said voting is “the ultimate right of speech in America, and Trump’s machine in South Carolina has just told the people of South Carolina that they don’t need to be heard. Donald Trump wants to be treated as a monarch, but we rejected that idea 200 years ago.”
Walsh told CNN after the South Carolina vote that his campaign would “fight South Carolina and any other state that considers doing this.” He also noted that Trump complained during the 2016 election “about how the Democrats were rigging the system to get Hillary (Clinton) elected. Well, look what he’s doing now. You talk about rigging a system.”