Election 2020

Impartial GOP Arbiter Says Trump Challengers Will 'Lose Horribly'

Ronna McDaniel's CPAC comments are latest indication that the Republican National Committee will tilt heavily Trump in 2020.


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Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/SIPA/Newscom

Today at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington, D.C., Ronna McDaniel, chair of the supposedly-impartial-in-primaries Republican National Committee (RNC), said that anyone foolish enough to challenge President Donald Trump would "lose horribly."

"So have at it, go ahead, waste your money, waste your time and go ahead and lose," she advised #NeverTrump Republicans.

McDaniel, niece of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), whom she criticized sharply after his January Washington Post op-ed critiquing the president, is just the latest RNC official to push the party toward full Trump-defense mode. Last month the RNC passed a unanimous resolution offering "undivided support for President Donald J. Trump and his effective Presidency." In December, the party and president announced the extraordinary step of merging organization and fundraising into a single entity called Trump Victory, which McDaniel bragged would be "the biggest, most efficient and unified campaign operation in American history."

While the party did not adopt a resolution explicitly blocking a primary challenge, officials in the first-in-the-South primary state of South Carolina are thinking about scrapping their election altogether.

"I've never seen anything like it and I've been involved in the Republican Party for most of my life," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a potential primary challenger, told Politico last week. "It's unprecedented."

"Remember when Republican primaries were about choosing the best candidate to represent the ideals of the party?," exploratory committee-haver Bill Weld tweeted earlier today. "What is it they are so afraid of?"

Writing in the Washington Post earlier this month, Republican strategist and Defending Democracy Together Executive Director Sarah Longwell laid out in detail the obstacles any Weld/Hogan type could face:

[I]t might be hardest for a Trump primary challenger to get on the ballot in states such as California and Texas, where state party organizations have sufficient control over the primary system to keep a challenger off the ballot for no other reason than caprice or self-interest. They could similarly put Trump on the ballot unilaterally, saving his campaign the trouble of qualifying.

At this moment, when the GOP establishment's support for Trump seems unshakable, partisan self-interest could mean blocking a challenger. But months from now — when the fallout from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation may be clear, for instance — the political winds might be blowing in another direction, and the state Republican organizations might be more welcoming to a challenger. Their election officers could use their discretion to place a challenger's name on primary ballots, removing the hurdle of collecting tens of thousands of nomination petition signatures.

Trump, who has serially accused Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee of colluding to rig the 2016 Democratic primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has consistently maintained approval ratings in the 80s among Republicans.

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  1. officials in the first-in-the-South primary state of South Carolina are thinking about scrapping their election altogether.

    Obviously Russian influence!

    1. Here in South Carolina we have open primaries. And since it’s a very conservative state, the winner of the Republican primary usually goes on to win the general election.

      Naturally this creates a dynamic where there are a lot of crossover votes in the primaries, and the winner of the Republican primary isn’t always to the liking of the majority of Republicans, when enough Democrats team up with a Republican minority. But we’re stuck with the choice of either a wishy washy Republican (Senator Graham, for instance…) or the Democrat.

      The concern here would be that Trump might be embarrassed by the result of the Republican primary, even though his level of support among Republicans is very high. The obvious solution is switching to a closed primary, but enough state legislators don’t fancy their chances of retaining their seats under such a system that it hasn’t been going anywhere.

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  2. Is this the part where we pretend like Bill Weld would be a better alternative?

    1. Better than Drumpf? Oh hell yeah! Not that it’s a high bar or anything…

      1. It is a low bar and Weld falls well below it. Trump is at least skeptical of our overseas adventurism, whereas Weld is George W. Bush, but he also supports pot and gay marriage.

        1. Honest question, Why do you say that Weld is in favor of overseas adventurism?

          Weld’s biggest strikes are on gun control and expanding medicaid in MA. But I struggle to find many other issues in which Weld isn’t more libertarian than Trump (not counting abortion because we know that libertarians often don’t agree).

          1. Trump is just as bad as Weld on gun control. On courts, Trump is only modestly better because he farmed out all that work to the Federalist Society.

            The biggest opposition to Weld has always centered around his boosterism for the Gulf War, our intervention in Serbia, his support for the Iraq War, and his support for our intervention in Libya.

            The only advantage that I give to Trump is really on foreign policy. I agree that Weld is better on immigration and tariffs, but then I guess it comes down to which issues you think are more important.

            1. Again, honest question (because I know very little about Weld other than what he said this election and his record as Governor): Do you have links to his supposed support for militarism?

              1. https://www.reason.com/blog/2016/05/19…..ibertarian

                Walker hit on Weld’s support for the Iraq War from 2004. But, his bad foreign policy goes beyond that.

            2. Trump hasn’t been fantastic on gun control, I’m disappointed in the bump stock ban. But, before Weld temporarily became a Libertarian for the rest of his life, he was, IIRC, anti-gun, and even as a purely nominal Libertarian he wasn’t all that hot. I suspect he’s probably back to being an anti-gunner, not that it really matters.

              “On courts, Trump is only modestly better because he farmed out all that work to the Federalist Society.”

              And which Republican President had the sense to do that before him? Republican Presidents have been lousy on judges, and I suspect it was because they meant to be. Or they could have done just like Trump.

            3. Trump’s only blunder on gun control is the bump stock ban.

      2. “Better than Drumpf? Oh hell yeah! Not that it’s a high bar or anything…”

        My biggest problem with Weld is that he shares his East Coast thought-bubble with some of the worst social control freaks and back-stabbers I’ve ever met – and I’m related to some of them.

        A good example is an uncle of mine whose think-tank provided the technical basis for HillaryCare in the ’90s and parts of the ACA. His cognitive dissonance and shamelessness are legendary:

        – After haranguing people for decades about the relevance of Roman history, he tried to weasel his way out of a consequent debate drubbing* by saying “I don’t think history repeats itself.”

        – Like a lot of Yale grads, he’ll chat up bright people and give them ‘chicken feed’ to get them to open up and share their best ideas. (You’re supposed to feel flattered that a Yale! Grad! is talking to you.) He’ll never share powerful information, even with people who’ve been generous to him and taken risks to help him out. That’s one of the reasons that his career plateaued early.

        – He cozied up to his father-in-law to gain managerial insights that he would never come to on his own, then undermined him.

        *He was dodging the same regulation he’d weaponized against opponents for years, and his best argument was this his institution was incorruptible (in contrast to Rome, the Qing Dynasty, Catholicism, Protestantism, peer review, the DEA drug labs…).

  3. This is a big mistake. The economy is not growing at the rate the Trump administration predicted. The debt is growing. The Democratically controlled House is likely to uncover a lot of dirt. The Republican need someone to step in if necessary. Preventing a challenger seems foolish. Better to accept challengers and let Trump show he can beat them. If he can’t beat a Republican challenger it is unlikely he can be a Democrat in the general election.

    1. OBL is better at it. And he’s not very good at all.

    2. My bad. Should read;

      If he can’t beat a Republican challenger it is unlikely he can beat a Democrat in the general election.

      1. It doesn’t matter no one cared.

    3. “The Republican need someone to step in if necessary. ”
      “If the Deep State Coup works, we’ll need another candidate.”

  4. She’s right. A primary challenger would lose.

  5. Party establisment sides with sitting President during primaries. Good thing Matt brings us the important, and unexpected stories.

    1. News you can use!

  6. “I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been involved in the Republican Party for most of my life,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a potential primary challenger, told Politico last week. “It’s unprecedented.”

    BS. I saw the same thing in 2012 when the GOP establishment decided at the convention that the grassroots was no longer allowed to do anything in an election year without the approval of the poobahs.

    Guy’s just pissed that the GOP establishment is now – Trump. And completely stupefied at the notion that the GOP has always been top-down driven.

    Course I doubt this leads to an exodus from the GOP either. Since it’s pretty obvious that people prefer pissing on the tent from the inside – cuz that will lead to ‘winning’ – and everyone knows that winning teams always decide to completely abdicate their current winning strategy in favor of some rebuild around some guy pissing on the tent from the inside.

    1. Trump has for the most part delivered for GOP voters. He said he was going to cut taxes and regulatons and he has. Employment is up, wages are up, Trump hasn’t started any new wars. And he has appointed a ton of conservative judges. Exactly what would a primary challanger promise the GOP other than giving a bunch of assholes who screwed up during the Bush administration a job?

      1. Talking about the debt and entitlement reform maybe?

        1. What Republican has ever done that? The Republicans had Congress and the White House for two years. What was stopping the Republicans in Congress from doing something about the deficit? It sure as hell wasn’t Trump. So while you can cirticize Trump for not trying to get Congress to do something, ultimatley it is Congress not the President who is ultimately responsible and no one in the Republican Party has a right to say one God damned word about it to Trump since they are just as or in many cases more responsible.

          1. Yeah you’re right. That would get me to consider a primary challenger, but I realize the vast majority of the electorate doesn’t think like I do. So yeah, I agree with you, someone running on that platform as a primary challenger would almost guaranteed get no where.

            1. It would have to be someone who is not a Republican or they wouldn’t have any standing to say jack.

      2. I don’t disagree that he is popular among people who voted GOP. He’s got a 90% approval rating among Republicans (higher than Obama’s among Dems in early 2011) so there won’t be a challenge.

        And with that sort of approval rating, Republicans simply don’t give a damn about ‘expanding the voter base’ or anything else re either Dems or independents or non-voters. They don’t care that Trump’s approval is 5% among Dems (not that any DeRp ever ‘switches’) or 38% among indys (lowest for a sitting Prez in my memory) That sort of change or ‘rethink’ about what makes for a winning coalition only happens AFTER a big loss and that hasn’t happened yet. For now – it’s keep doubling down

        1. Trump’s approval rating among independents is 44%


          He only got 46% in 2016 when he won the election. Go talk to Mitt Romney, who beat Obama by double digits among independents about how much getting the independent vote means. His answer will be jack and shit.

          As far as building the coalition, Trump’s approval among blacks and Hispanics has improved pretty much his entire administration. Just so you don’t think I am cherry picking data, here is a PBS article “fact checking” the Marist poll that found his approval rating among Hispanics at 50%. After paragraphs and pragraphs of spin and absurd claims like “56% of voters say they will never vote for Trump” and so forth, even PBS has to admit this

          Additionally, just 27 percent of Latinos who were polled said they would definitely vote for Trump in 2020, while 58 percent said they would not.

          In 2016, Trump received 20 percent of the Latino vote, according to exit polls.

          So Trump is up a minimum of seven points among Hispanics over what he was in 2016. Talk about burying the lead.


          1. Gallup has him at 38% among independents as of Feb 10, 2019.

            1. 89% Republicans, and 5% democrats.

            2. Gallup is the poll I looked at cuz they’ve got the history doing that specific poll

      3. “Exactly what would a primary challanger promise the GOP other than giving a bunch of assholes who screwed up during the Bush administration a job?”

        Thank you.

  7. #MAGA

    Still not tired of winning

    1. So much winning!

  8. As a factual matter, Sarah Longwell is completely wrong about California. The state Republican party can neither put a candidate on the ballot or keep a candidate off the ballot.

    California Elections Code section 6340:
    “The Secretary of State shall place the name of a candidate upon the Republican presidential primary ballot when the Secretary of State has determined that the candidate is generally recognized throughout the United States or California as a candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for President of the United States.

    On or before the 120th day preceding a presidential primary election the Secretary of State shall publicly announce and distribute to the news media for publication a list of the candidates he or she intends to place on the ballot at the following presidential primary election. Following this announcement he or she may add candidates to his or her selection, but he or she may not delete any candidate whose name appears on the announced list.”

    I would therefore not trust anything Longwell says about any state or any election law as accurate.

  9. Unfortunately now that patriotic, respectable conservatives have largely been purged from the party, she’s probably right. The GOP has been taken over by its alt-right white nationalist faction. It might be a while before this once-great party nominates another candidate with the integrity and decency of, for instance, John McCain.

    But assuming Mueller somehow fails to remove Drumpf from office, any Democrat will beat him in 2020. Incumbent Presidents simply do not get reelected in economies this bad.

    1. They haven’t been taken over by the alt-right nationalists. But they have let them back into the tent.

      1. Name 3.

      2. The left now views anybody to the right of themselves as “alt-right nationalists”, while wondering what the big deal is about associating with admitted Marxists and anti-semites with a history of fomenting deadly riots.

  10. Oh, they will. Why do people think that the Dems are lining up candidates publicly already but you’re not hearing a peep out of potential R candidates?

    And its not because Trump is a great President. Its because he’s actually not so bad that anyone else looks good enough to overcome the ‘incumbent bump’ in votes.

    1. Trump is by a lot of objective measures better than the last two Presidents we had. And both of them won re-election.

      1. LOL

        It doesn’t bother you he colluded with a hostile foreign power to cheat his way to victory in a hacked election?

        1. Not as much as Obama directly supporting a hostile power in Iran and destroying the nation of Libya for no particular reason.

        2. The two are unrelated. He can simultaneously have colluded with Russia on … something i guess. and still be doing a good job as president.

          Hes actually been MUCH better than I feared he would be. I’m pleasantly surprised.

        3. Does it not bother you that you keep regurgitating this same lie without a single bit of proof.

      2. Trump’s going to win because the Democrats still don’t have a clue. Trump won’t have a viable party challenger because the party has chased away anyone who isn’t worshipping Trump. The only possibility is to find someone who can promise gun turrets on the wall.

        1. The GOP ceded the field to him on trade and immigration. And they stil can’t figure out how he won. They don’t call them the stupid party for nothing.

        2. Trump is going to win because the Democrats aren’t going to put up a centrist candidate. They lost in 2016 because Hillary didn’t appeal to blue collar voters in WI, MI, OH, and PA. The current front-runner Dems are worse than Hillary in that regard.

          The only name I’ve heard from Democrats that has much of a chance of beating Trump is Biden, because he would carry 3 of the 4 states I listed.

          1. I don’t think the Democrats want to win. They increasingly remind me of the Republicans in 2011. After the Republicans retook the House in 2010, they realized that not being in charge or responsible for anything was a pretty good deal. They could rant and rave and tell their base all the wonderful things they would do if only that God damned Obama wasn’t President and quietly steal and collect campaign donations from the rubes while not actually having to do anything or be held accountable if anything went wrong. It looks to me like the Democrats have come to the same conclusion. Trump being President allows them to run investigations and grand stand and make absurd promises to their crazier supporters knowing none of it will ever ben enacted and they will never have to worry about the consiquences. I bet the Democrats run a lunatic in 2020 and make a half hearted effort to win. If they lose again 2020 after running a full on leftist, they can tell their lunatic base that they need to knock it off for a while fi they ever want to get back into power.

            1. I don’t know how intentional it is vs the extreme leftists not realizing that they don’t have a good national platform.

              Honest question for you: Would you be concerned if they nominated Biden? I personally think he’s got the best chance (maybe only chance) of beating Trump out of the current crop of candidates.

              1. I think Biden would be by far their strongest candidate because he was VP under Obama and while I don’t like Obama even I have to admit the world didn’t end when he was President.

                The biggest problem for the Demcorats is Trump is running as an incumbent and the devil the country knows. And unless an incumbents own party turns on him like they did with Bush I or things really go tits up with the country the way it did under Carter, it is pretty tough to beat an incumbent. The GOP isn’t turning on Trump. So unless there is a war or the economy goes way south, Trump will be able to run as the devil everyone knows. For all of the hyperventating about Trump among the media and Democrats what bad has happened since he took office? Nothing really. Yeah, you can bitch about his policies and think he is a bad President but you really can’t point to any disaster or catastrophe under his watch. So when it comes down to it, why would the people who are liable to vote either way and decide any election take a chance on an unknown Democrat when at least with Trump you have some assurance nothing horrible is going to happen? That is a tough bar for a challanger to overcome.

                1. I was thinking primarily about electoral college politics. In my mind it comes down to WI, MI, OH, PA all of which Trump won in 2016. If you consider that Biden gets union support, his “working-class” personality, and his more moderate stance on issues like climate change and guns than Hillary, I think he would likely beat Trump in 3/4 of those states which is all that is needed.

                  1. If you consider that Biden gets union support, his “working-class” personality, and his more moderate stance on issues like climate change and guns than Hillary, I think he would likely beat Trump in 3/4 of those states which is all that is needed.

                    I think Biden would actually take all of those states pretty easily. Unlike the Democratic base, he doesn’t actually hate the white working class, knows how to talk to them in a non-pandering way, and can still pimp his SJW bonafides by pointing out that he was the catalyst for getting gay marriage legalized. No one is going to give a shit about the fact that he’d be MeToo’d into oblivion if he wasn’t a lifelong politician.

                    1. He is not called ‘creepy uncle Joe’ for nothing. It would not take much for Trump and the conservatives to completely destroy him on social media. There are many videos of Biden’s totally inappropriate behaviour in the presence of young kids, particularly little girls. I am absolutely convinced of how disgusting he is.
                      He is totally compromised and absolutely protected by the under belly of the democratic party. He is a thoroughly loathsome individual.

            2. I don’t think that analysis works. The reason the Republican leadership don’t care if they’re in the majority is because they’re quite often in agreement with the Democrats about policy, and just lying to their voters about it.

              When they’re in the majority they have a hard time explaining why they’re not enacting what they ran on doing. They have to avoid even scheduling votes on things they ran on, because it would expose the members who are absolutely determined that those things not happen.

              Being in the minority makes it much easier on them.

              The Democrats actually care about getting things done. Batshit crazy things like a government takeover of the healthcare system, but they care. And they need to be in the majority to accomplish them.

              What’s going on here is that they’ve been drinking their own Koolaid about how awful Trump is, and how he’s going to be in jail before the term is up, so they think 2020 is in the bag already. So they’re fighting over the nomination without any worries about what that fight will do to their electability.

              Mind, they might very well win, they’ve got something like 95% of the media working as an unpaid PR firm for them. That’s a pretty strong media headwind to fight, without it Trump would be a shoe in.

              1. Some Americans still expect the party in power to “do things”.

                The Republicans left in the GOP are conservatives and by definition want government to do limited things. For some reason this includes rolling back Socialist policies already implemented.

                Trump has decided that he wants to “do something” and that is rollback government where he can and otherwise do what many Republicans want their politicians to do. Also Trump seems to want to put America first.

                Hence, Trump is super popular.

              2. I agree, Biden would be a contender if he ran. None of the other dimwits thus far announced have a chance unless Trump makes a huge mis-step, in my opinion, and as John stated. I think it’s likely that a white knight steps in at the 11th hour if they can’t get any traction leading up to the election. Someone like Oprah. Trump should fear someone like her (and maybe only her). A non-politician populist with as much or more celebrity status will automatically be a player….or not.

        3. Nixon v. McGovern – The Rematch

          The Dems need to line up a peanut farmer for 2024.

  11. Remember when Republican primaries were about choosing the best candidate…exploratory committee-haver Bill Weld tweeted earlier today.

    I do not remember that. Hey asshole, you bought a Burger King franchise. You don’t get to sell Big Macs.

    1. They were never about picking the best candidate. From 1988-2012 they were about picking the candidate whose turn was next. Maybe that’s what Weld remembers?

      1. Not true. At Burger King you can have it “you’re way”

        1. or *your


  12. Anyone looking to torpedo the whole two party system could do a lot worse than successfully primarying a sitting President. So there is that brass ring. But otherwise, it aint happening.

    1. Did McCarthy torpedoing Johnson end the two party system? Why would now be any different?

      1. But McCarthy did not succeed in the primary either. That’s an important distinction. You have to do both.

        That episode also had other asterisks, not the least of which was the killing of another Kennedy.

        1. McCarthy succeeded in ending the carreer of a incumbent President. The fact that McCarthy himself didn’t win doesn’t change that or make it less analogous to your point. Suppose McCarthy had gone on to the nomination, what reason is there to believe that would have ended the two party system? None as far as I can tell.

          1. Yes John, it does change my point entirely. What part of “successfully primarying” would not include winning the primary?

            A kingslayer is one thing, a usurper is something else.

            1. If McCarthy won the nomination why would he be a usurper? Moreover, George Wallce ran as a third party in 1968 and took a huge section of Democratic voters with him. That didn’t end the two party system and McCarthy winning the nomination would not have done so either.

              1. There is no point answering your first question. It is a counterfactual. If it had happened we would know what it meant. It didn’t happen.

                More to the point did I say it would end the two party system? No I didn’t, so don’t expect me to jump in and argue what you want the discussion to be about.

                Exactly why are you persisting in arguing things I never said? I said “anyone looking to torpedo the whole two party system could do a lot worse than…” Meaning such an event would leave the whole party process on much less firm ground. Because who the Hell would trust such a process?

                Are you willing to disagree with that?

                1. Anyone looking to torpedo the whole two party system could do a lot worse than successfully primarying a sitting President.

                  What are you saying there other than it would end or at least go a long ways to ending the two party system? You said that. Why woudl someone wanting to end the two party system be able to do a lot worse than torpeoding a sitting President if doing so doesn’t do something significant towards ending the two party system?

                  We had this happen once before in 1968. And it didn’t so much as dent the two party system. I see no reason to believe it would be any different here.

                  Why do insist on running away and pretending you didn’t make points you quite obviously did?

                  1. “We had this happen once before in 1968”

                    No John, we didn’t have this happen in 1968 because McCarthy was not the Democrat candidate for POTUS. His primary campaign was not successful.

                    Details matter, no matter what you want to believe. I’m not running away. Unless you consider repeating my points verbatim then explaining them to be ‘running away.’

    2. Anyone looking to torpedo the whole two party system could do a lot worse than successfully primarying a sitting President.

      Considering Trump’s support among the actual party members, they’re already wasting their time.

      What could any potential challenger in the party possibly offer Republican voters that Trump hasn’t already talked about or ignored? The mid-term party losses were largely in places where “moderate” Republicans already served. The only lesson the party apparently got from that is that running from Trump and not fighting your ass off to win is not going to increase your vote totals.

      1. The big danger for Trump was not doing enough on the Wall and immigration and getting challenged by a more aggressive nationalist.

        He’d win, but he’d take a hit in the base come the general election.

  13. Makes since; Anyone who ever believed the federal government is overstepping its bounds will support President Trump. His 2-for-1 E.O., De-Regulation path and treaty renegotiations are undeniable proofs he wasn’t all talk and no action on the subject. Finding a President this consistent and centralized on his campaigning promises isn’t easy at all to find.

  14. Yeah, Trump won’t have a viable party challenger because the party has chased away anyone who isn’t worshipping Trump.

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