Trump’s Direct Primary Challengers Could Spell Trouble

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Governor Ronald Reagan tested President Gerald Ford in 1976, Senator Ted Kennedy clashed against President Jimmy Carter in 1980, and broadcaster Patrick Buchanan challenged President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Through these three examples, each incumbent President won against their strong primary challenges; however, they would all lose in the general election that year. We have not seen a major primary challenge against an incumbent President since 1992, but many are speculating that President Trump will face a strong opponent and give the 2020 election a bit of a twist. 

There have been three Republicans so far to launch a primary campaigns against President Trump as they seek to complete the Goliath challenge of defeating an incumbent in the primary. Let’s take a look at three of the big names who have declared to take on the daunting task:

Former Massachusetts Governor William “Bill” Weld

Former Governor William “Bill” Weld was the first Republican challenger to President Trump, declaring his presidential candidacy on April 15. After being a U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts for almost five years and the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for nearly two, Bill Weld became the Governor of Massachusetts in 1991 and served until 1997 where he resigned to pursue his nomination from President Bill Clinton to become the United States Ambassador to Mexico. 

Unfortunately, Republicans in the Senate stalled Weld’s nomination due to his stance on drugs, and he withdrew his nomination two months after his resignation from the governorship. Since then, Weld has since mounted unsuccessful political campaigns in the 1996 U.S. Senate race for Massachusetts where he lost to incumbent Senator John Kerry, and in the 2016 presidential election, where he served as former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s running mate on the Libertarian Party ticket. 

Weld is known by most as a Libertarian-leaning conservative who focuses strongly on balancing the federal budget, establishing worldwide free trade, and reverting back to a fully open-market healthcare system. While attracting many Libertarians and independents, Weld tends to turn away many staunch traditional conservatives with his extreme pro-choice abortion stance.

Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh

Former Congressman Joe Walsh’s presidential primary has received a significant amount of attention ever since he began pondering a candidacy in mid-August. Walsh rode the wave of the Tea Party Movement before winning a U.S. House seat in 2010 representing Illinois’s 8th congressional district. During his first term, he was a strong advocate for conservative values including fiscal responsibility, free market practices, and a tough law and order stance. After the redistricting of Illinois’s congressional districts, Walsh lost his re-election bid to now-Senator Tammy Duckworth and became a radio talk show host. 

Despite once being a loyal ally of the President, Walsh has now turned into a complete antagonist towards the Trump Administration. As of now, Walsh has not come out with any policy proposals except pure opposition to President Trump. While this may attract most of the never-Trumpers in the GOP, Walsh’s incendiary past of racial comments and controversial tweets will impact his chance to attract a large sect of Republican voters away from the President.

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

Former Governor Mark Sanford is the latest Republican primary challenger declaring his candidacy on September 8. With nearly twenty-five years of holding public office, Sanford, a former businessman and Air Force veteran, presents himself as the most experienced primary challenger to President Trump. He represented South Carolina’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House twice from 1995-2001 and 2013-2019, as well as being South Carolina’s Governor from 2003-2011. 

During his second tenure in Congress, Sanford was a very outspoken critic of the President which many assume led to his defeat in the Republican House primary in his district in 2018. Since his primary defeat, Sanford has continued to dial up his anti-Trump rhetoric; however, unlike Walsh, he has come out with a platform to find the true identity of the Republican Party and the conservatives within it. 

Sanford is identified as a strong “fiscal hawk” that preaches spending cuts and a balanced budget, as well as other traditional conservative values like limited government and uninfringed gun rights. The biggest issue Sanford faces is the remaining fallout from his extramarital affair while Governor in 2009 where he disappeared to Argentina to visit his mistress. In addition to the Argentinian incident, Sanford also admitted to having multiple affairs during his twenty-year marriage. 

With these three men challenging the President, we could see an easy road to a second term for President Trump, or we can see a monumental effect from these men that could ultimately affect the outcome of the 2020 election and the future of our nation.

Joshua is an Air Force ROTC cadet majoring in political science and journalism at the University of Arkansas. He enjoys sports, writing, and volunteering for important causes. His dreams are to work for a major news network and eventually run for political office.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Joshua Snyder

Joshua is an Air Force ROTC cadet majoring in political science and journalism at the University of Arkansas. He enjoys sports, writing, and volunteering for important causes. His dreams are to work for a major news network and eventually run for political office.

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