Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Idaho Republicans Face Deadline on 2020 Presidential Primary

As the October 1 RNC deadline for state parties to finalize plans for 2020 delegate selection approaches, Idaho Republicans face a decision.

Under the rules of the Idaho Republican Party, the state party chairman has until the final Monday in September to opt into or out of the state government-run presidential primary. That last Monday in September falls on Monday, September 30, the day before the RNC deadline. And Chairman Raúl Labrador could follow the raft of other Republican state parties that have chosen already to cancel their delegate selection events or presidential preference votes ahead of a cycle in which the party is likely to renominate President Trump.

But it should be noted that in past instances in which Republican presidents have run for renomination, Idaho Republicans have no recent history of canceling primaries or caucuses. That did not happen in 1992 nor did it happen in 2004. That said, in a season in which an increasing number of state Republican parties are opting out of primaries and caucuses, Idaho could join the group in an effort to smooth the president's path to renomination.

Finally, the Idaho Republican Party when it adopted changes to its rules in April 2019 made no significant changes to the delegate allocation rules for 2020. There remains a 20 percent threshold to qualify for delegates, a level that may be high enough to keep the president's opponents away from qualification. And Idaho is a backdoor winner-take-all state. If only one candidate surpasses 20 percent, then that candidate receives all of the delegates from the Gem state. And that is in addition to the winner-take-all threshold the party has in place, a 50 percent threshold that, if triggered, would also award all of the delegates to the majority winner. This is all consistent with how the party operated its delegate allocation in 2016.

Regardless, for those watching state party-level maneuvering, Idaho bears some attention as the week progresses and the calendar eases into the weekend.

The Idaho Republican Party state central committee also passed a resolution at its June meeting supporting President Trump. That move may or may not serve as some evidence that the party will move to ease Trump's road to the nomination through a primary cancelation.

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