MINNEAPOLIS — There's no doubt President Trump is an overwhelming favorite to win Minnesota's presidential preference primary in March. He draws capacity crowds to rallies, and outperformed expectations in this state back in 2016.
That being said, some expected to see the names of his GOP rivals on the ballot here on Super Tuesday as a formality. That won't be happening.
Minnesota GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan sent a letter last week to Secretary of State Steve Simon informing him that Donald J. Trump is the only name the party wants to see on its ballot.
"At the time that we filed there was only one campaign that reached out to the Republican Party of Minnesota requesting ballot access, and it was the Donald J. Trump for President campaign," Carnahan told KARE Friday.
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh are all challenging the president for the GOP nomination. But the state party is already working hard to reelect the president and deliver Minnesota to a Republican candidate for the first time in 1972.
"Our job is to deliver our state’s 10 electoral votes to President Trump on November 3rd of 2020 and that’s what our strategic operations and field program is pointed towards," Carnahan remarked.
Walsh, in an appearance on CNN Friday, threatened to sue Minnesota Republicans to get on the ballot here. But it's not likely such an effort would go far in court, according to political expert Steven Schier.
"The statute’s very clear that the party officials decide who’s on the ballot, that’s in the law. It's very clear," Schier explained.
The Secretary of State and local elections coordinators will run the election, but the primary -- much like the caucus system it's replacing -- is a party function. Keeping the rivals off the ballot will also eliminated the protest vote factor.
"The results of just having one candidate you really have no idea how many Republicans are dissatisfied with Trump because they can’t vote against him in the Republican primary."
Minnesota political parties have until Dec. 31 to set their candidate slates in stone. The DFL plans to wait as long as possible to see which candidates are still in the race, according to a state party staff member.