The Republican Party has been making controversial moves over the past few weeks. The first state to announce they were cancelling their republican primary caucus was Kansas on September 6, 2019. Soon after, five other state’s GOPs announced they’re avoiding having a presidential primary, sending shock waves throughout America’s newly returned Congress.
The GOP announced that in lieu of a primary for the presidency, they will instead select the candidate they want on the ballot. Currently, there are three candidates running for President against incumbent, Donald Trump. Unlike what occurred in 2016, the GOP is supporting Trump. In fact, They support him so much that they are putting “presidential preference” into effect, which allows states to skip holding a primary when there is a clear winner within their party in their state.
The following states have selected to skip holding a primary: Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina. Alaska specifically and most recently decided to scrap their primary to prove their allegiance to Trump. South Carolina’s party chairman Drew Mckissick stated that there is “no legitimate primary challenger.” The finalization of these cancellations will be concluded by the end of September.
South Carolina has come under the most scrutiny for their choice to skip a primary. South Carolina is considered a key state in presidential races, and their elections are a strong indicator of who may secure the nomination. So losing this state is a big hit to the other three candidates facing Trump. Some are also suspicious of the South Carolinian GOP’s abrupt move to cancel the primary as one particular candidate, Mark Sanford, is a Republican who served as South Carolina’s governor and House representative. Some believe that he had a genuine chance at winning (or at least making a dent in Trump’s poll numbers) there, but he has essentially lost this shot.
Furthermore, South Carolina’s “presidential preference” rule states, “Unless decided otherwise by the state party convention within two (2) years prior to each presidential election year, the South Carolina Republican Party shall conduct a statewide presidential preference primary on a date selected by the chairman of the party and this date must be within two weeks after the New Hampshire Republican Primary, or earlier if necessary to preserve South Carolina’s ‘First in the South’ status.” South Carolina’s GOP did not vote to cancel the primary.
The GOP and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) have selected candidates in specific elections before. The GOP most recently made this move in 10 states in 2004, when President Bush was running for reelection. The DNC also canceled 10 primaries in 2012 for President Obama. While the reasoning of there being a clear winner makes sense, there also is the reason of the GOP wanting to put their backing behind a single candidate. Local governments and state governments will opt to do this somewhat frequently. In 2019 in Virginia the GOP selected their local candidates, partially because there was a “clear frontrunner.” Some speculated that this was partially because they were concerned that Corey Stewart, a politician with ties to neo-Nazis, Roy Moore and countless scandals, would win. By selecting their candidate without an election, they chose who they wanted and bypassed allowing the people to vote.
Skipping holding primaries is also reminiscent of Trump’s 2016 quote declaring, “Just cancel the election and name me president!” While the move of utilizing “presidential preference” isn’t necessarily unprecedented in politics, it certainly is a much more defiant and bold statement than it has been in years past, considering the divisive and tense political state of the United States.