The Michigan Republican Party this afternoon submitted a list of presidential candidates for the state primary election in March that offered just one contender — President Donald Trump — allowing him to run uncontested.
The GOP has taken similar steps in other states barring three candidates who are longshots but also hold somewhat significant status and are running active campaigns: former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.
“Today, in accordance with Michigan election law, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox submitted her list of credible Republicans running in next year’s Presidential Primary to the State Bureau of Elections,” the MIGOP announced minutes ago. “That list consisted of one name, President Donald J. Trump.”
The three challengers have bitterly opposed party decisions in other states to keep them off the ballot. But the situation leading up to 2020 presents an unprecedented situation: The Democratic National Committee has tried to narrow its huge field of presidential candidates by establishing rules that prevent certain low-level contenders from participating in presidential debates, based on polling and fundraising.
And at the same time, the trio of anti-Trump challengers have registered nearly zero support in most states.
Less convincing is the Republican Party comparison that former President Barack Obama ran unopposed in the 2012 Democratic primaries, with a voter option of declaring themselves “uncommitted.” However, Obama faced no serious opposition for the nomination and the party declared that it was simply trying to save costs and expedite the process by allowing the incumbent president to quickly claim victory in the primaries.
In contrast, Trump has become perhaps the most divisive president in U.S. history, with unprecedented disapproval ratings, and anti-Trump Republicans searching for a way to express their opposition.
Chair Cox said that the decision to disqualify the three challengers in Michigan was based on polling and other measurements of a potentially serious GOP campaign in the spring.
“President Trump enjoys high favorability with Republicans in the state with 92% saying they will support him in the state’s primary,” she said. “Additionally, in September, Trump received the unanimous endorsement of the Michigan Republican State Committee. The Trump campaign is the only campaign that contacted the Michigan Republican Party about appearing on the chairman’s list of candidates for the primary.”