Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who launched a primary challenge against President Trump, is planning to protest several state Republican parties’ moves to exclude Trump’s GOP challengers from their primary ballots.
Walsh said in a news release that he and some his supporters would gather at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning to confront the organization over what he branded as a “nakedly anti-Democratic” effort. The one-term congressman said that he planned the gathering after RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel ignored his requests to meet and discuss the cancellation of the primaries.
“It is unconscionable the Republican Party would be limiting the voices of voters at a time when the President continues to become embroiled in scandal after scandal,” Walsh’s campaign said in an email, noting that he had appealed to McDaniel last week in a letter, but that she and other committee staff have so far refused to meet.
Trump and the RNC are rigging this election!
So tomorrow morning — joined by our grassroots supporters — I’ll be visiting the RNC headquarters to hold @GOPChairwoman accountable for this repulsive affront to the voters and our democracy. Join us! https://t.co/6R34IkKrcQ pic.twitter.com/zOxjY4Choc
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) January 16, 2020
“Refusing to meet with a presidential candidate who is not only a lifelong Republican but also a former member of Congress is a new low, even for this iteration of the GOP,” said Lucy Caldwell, Walsh’s campaign manager. “We hope Ronna and others on the RNC staff, many of whom members our team used to work hand-in-hand with, will come to their senses and show common decency not only to Congressman Walsh, but by extension, to the American public.”
The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
Walsh launched a long-shot bid to challenge Trump in the 2020 GOP primary last August. Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R) is also challenging the president.
In the months since each launched their campaign, several states have announced that they would be excluding anyone except Trump from their GOP ballots. In September, Kansas and South Carolina’s Republican parties announced they had voted to cancel their state primaries during the 2020 election cycle.
Nevada and Arizona also moved to scrap their Republican primaries that same month. Several other state GOPs followed suit, including in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Hawaii and Alaska. Walsh’s campaign claims that the number of states cancelling their primary has reached nearly 20.
RNC members last January voted to give Trump the party’s “undivided support.” While the vote was largely symbolic, the RNC has generally refrained from announcing an endorsement until someone became its nominee.
RNC spokeswoman Cassie Smedile told Hill TV in September that it was not “abnormal” for state Republican parties to cancel primaries, noting states took that step during Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush’s presidencies.
“This person in the White House is incredibly popular and our party writ large likes where we’re heading in this country,” she said. “It’s not that people are not allowed to do it, it’s just, do you have a viable path to really make a run for it and the data does not bear that out.”