The state GOP has notified the Elections Commission it plans to have a presidential primary on the April ballot.
Still, party Executive Director Mark Jefferson said state Republicans will wait until a January deadline to decide if anyone besides President Trump will be placed on the ballot.
“We haven’t determined yet who will be on the ballot at this point or if there will be any opposition to the president or not,” Jefferson said. “It comes down to the definition of who’s actually running, really, what you consider to be viable?”
Several state Republican parties earlier this year decided to cancel their 2020 presidential primaries, citing overwhelming support for Trump among their members. Critics contend the moves were meant to shield the president from the potential embarrassment of a poor showing against a primary challenger.
So far, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, of Illinois, have indicated plans to challenge Trump for the GOP nomination. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, of South Carolina, announced a bid against Trump, but ended his campaign in November.
The Dem and Republican state parties faced a deadline today to notify the state Elections Commission if they planned to have a presidential primary on the April 7 ballot, and both met the deadline. A party’s candidate for guv must receive at least 10 percent of the vote in the mid-term election in order to qualify for a presidential primary, and only Dems and Republicans met that mark.
Next, the Presidential Preference Selection Committee — comprised of representatives from the Dem and Republican parties — will meet Jan. 7. That body has the sole discretion “to determine which persons are generally advocated or recognized by the news media throughout the United States as candidates for the office of president,” according to the Elections Commission.
Typically, the two parties respect each other’s wishes on who to place on the partisan ballots.
Those who aren’t picked by the commission to appear on the ballot can still qualify by gathering at least 8,000 signatures between Jan. 7 and Jan. 28. That includes between 1,000 and 1,500 signatures in each of the state’s eight congressional districts.
Candidates picked to appear on the ballots have until Jan. 28 to file a disclaimer saying they don’t wish to be a candidate in the presidential primaries.