Much of the 2020 presidential election coverage thus far has focused on the many, many Democratic candidates aiming to challenge incumbent President Donald Trump. But what about the other Republicans running for president in 2020? Let's take a look at the Republican landscape and the potential challengers to Trump.
So far, there's only one Republican challenger: William Weld. Weld was Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997 and is aiming to bring "equality, dignity and opportunity for all" (principles of Abraham Lincoln) back to the Republican party. He's strongly anti-Trump, both in rhetoric and in action, asserting that the president should be charged for obstruction of justice. Interestingly, he's pro-choice, which is unusual for conservatives, but he's also pro-tax cuts and pro-small government. In 2016, he was on the Libertarian ticket as VP for Gary Johnson.
Weld has been making the rounds as a very long-shot candidate, continuing to criticize Trump and warning that the sitting president might not leave the White House voluntarily if he loses in 2020. Weld also says he's continuing his fight to keep the more old-school values of the Republican Party intact instead of the cult of personality that he sees in modern-day Republicanism.
There were two other politicians who are also considering a run, although both have now indicated that they won't be diving into the 2020 race. There was also one other potential candidate who briefly seemed like he was entertaining a 2020 bid—former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who served from 2013 to 2019—but he has since become a contributor for CNBC, so he's not running. He was and is also staunchly opposed to Trump.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who just won re-election, is also anti-Trump, particularly over the Mueller report. As a moderate Republican, he's pro-tax cutes but also pro-climate change reform, LGBT rights, and gun control, amongst other things.
Hogan freely admitted to Politico, "I don’t see any path to winning a Republican primary against this president, or anybody doing it. But things have a way of changing." He added, "I don’t know what the lay of the land is going to look like this summer, or in the fall." He's also said that he's not going to run unless he sees a path to victory. On June 1, he made it official: No, he's not running.
John Kasich, former Ohio Governor from 2011 to 2019 and presidential candidate in 2016, was also mulling over a potential run. He's more conservative, favoring tax cuts and actually defunding Planned Parenthood in Ohio, but he has some moderate stances, like acknowledging climate change as a threat. He's also building a platform on fixing broken government and bringing civility back to politics.
He, too, admitted to AP, "If you’re going to run as a Republican you have to have a sense that if you get into primaries you can win. Right now, probably couldn’t win," he said. "But that’s today. It’s ever changing." On May 30, he said, "There is no path right now for me. I don't see a way to get there...I've never gotten involved in a political race where I didn't think I could win." So he's out, as well.
Here's why more Republican challengers would matter to the race, courtesy of Fortune:
Presidents who face a reputable challenge in the primary frequently lose reelection, even after winning their party’s nomination; a divided party is less likely to turn out the votes needed. The last time this happened was in 1992, when President George H. W. Bush lost reelection to Bill Clinton after facing a far-right candidate in the primary.
So even though a Republican candidate may not prevail in the challenge, it could serve to weaken the sitting president's electability. However, considering how much of an impact Trump has had on the Republican party, particularly the far right, some pundits are speculating that primary challengers will have even less of an impact on his run than normal. This may also be why not many people are stepping up—they know they won't get much, if any traction. Not helping matters, per Fortune, is that "Trump’s 2020 campaign has merged with the Republican National Committee to become a joint fundraising committee called Trump Victory."
Trump, struggled to fundraise initially, according to Vanity Fair. "There’s Trump fatigue," said a prominent Republican donor. "The 2020 bumper sticker should be: 'Same Policies, but We Promise Less Crazy.'" But those numbers have increased.
Watch this space—we'll update the story as we know more.
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