Minnesota GOP Leaves Trump Challengers Off Primary Ballot

November 1, 2019by Patrick Condon
President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., before his departure to deliver remarks at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum in Columbia, S.C., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will be the only choice on the ballot in Minnesota’s Republican presidential primary, even though he is not the only candidate running.

That’s at the direction of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Its chairwoman, Jennifer Carnahan, sent a letter to the Minnesota Secretary of State on Oct. 24 outlining its “determination of candidates” for the March 3, 2020 Republican primary ballot.

Trump is the only name listed. Absent are three other Republican candidates who, while long shots, are prominent political names: former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.

“The people who are being wronged in this are the voters of Minnesota, whose rights are being disenfranchised,” said Lucy Caldwell, who is Walsh’s campaign manager. She called it “appalling but unsurprising news, given the hold that Trump’s cult of personality has over some of these state party leaders.”

A spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Minnesota did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Weld and Sanford campaigns did not immediately comment.

Under state law, “each party must determine which candidates are to be placed on the presidential nomination primary ballot for that party.” The deadline for that filing is Dec. 31, meaning the Minnesota GOP submitted its ballot more than two months earlier than necessary.

The political parties are also allowed to request a space for write-in candidates, or a space for voters to choose that delegates to the national party convention remain uncommitted. The Republican Party of Minnesota has not made either of those requests, said a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.

It’s not unusual for political parties to push back against internal dissent when a sitting president is up for reelection. And primary challenges to presidents always face long odds.

State Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Kansas and Arizona voted last month to scrap their presidential primary altogether in 2020. In South Carolina, two Republicans including a former congressman have sued in an effort to reinstate the presidential primary.

Weld was governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997, and in 2016 was running mate to Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Sanford was governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011 and also served two separate six-year stretches in the U.S. House. Walsh is a former Tea party activist who served one two-year term in the House. All have been highly critical of Trump’s character and his performance in office.

“Joe is a principled conservative who has the bravery to call out this president for the disaster that he’s been,” Caldwell said.

———

©2019 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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