In the wake of President Donald Trump’s defeat in a border-wall standoff with Congress, his political team is worried about a primary fight, according to The New York Times.
“Leadership means results,” David Winston, a Republican pollster, told the Times. “When you have a shutdown, people look at it, basically, as: the political system has failed.”
“Immigration is an important issue, but people are waking up every day trying to figure out how they’re going to pay a set of bills in front of them,” he added.
Now, Trump and his aides are as focused on heading off competition from fellow Republicans as they are of Democratic contenders, the Times reported.
Bill Stepien, a former Whtie House political director who serves as a top aide on Trump’s campaign, is leading an effort to make sure there’s no insurrection at next year’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., the Times reported.
According to the Times, Stepien and his deputies have been consulting party leaders about shutting off avenues to a challenge and ensuring that states can’t put up “favorite son” candidates to contest Trump’s renomination.
Also, Trump has dedicated a team of aides to guarantee only political loyalists are elected to serve as delegates to the convention, the Times reported.
Other Republicans view the current political climate as the right time to lure a challenger into the race, with Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan a subject of their efforts, the Times reported.
At a December conference hosted by the Niskanen Center, a right-of-center think tank, Hogan spoke briefly with William Kristol, a Trump critic in the conservative press who argued the president is weaker than widely understood, the Times reported, citing unnamed people briefed on the conversation.
In addition to Hogan, William Weld, the former GOP governor of Massachusetts, is weighing a challenge to Trump as a small-government moderate, the Times reported. Both Weld and Hogan declined to comment.
Other Republicans who’ve hinted they’re interested in a run against Trump include John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio; Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska; and Jeff Flake, the former senator from Arizona.
But Bruce Berke, a Republican strategist in New Hampshire aligned with Kasich, warned: “A primary challenge in 2020, as of today, would be futile for anyone,” the Times reported.
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