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Arizona GOP won’t hold 2020 presidential preference election

President Donald Trump applauds the crowd of supporters during a rally at the International Air Response facility on October 19, 2018, in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Republican Party won’t hold a presidential preference election for 2020, instead putting its full support behind President Donald Trump’s reelection effort.

State GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward delivered notice of the decision to the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Monday morning.

“Arizonans are excited and energized to send President Trump back to the White House for four more years,” Ward said in a statement.

In the letter to Hobbs, Ward said she will nominate the state’s presidential electors next year.

Former South Carolina governor and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford over the weekend became the third Republican to challenge the president, joining former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

But Arizona voters looking for a Republican alternative to Trump won’t have a say in the nominating process.

“By opting out of the presidential preference election, our united Republican Party of Arizona will save taxpayers millions as we look ahead to the general election,” Ward said.

The GOP in Nevada, South Carolina and Kansas also are skipping 2020 primaries. More states are expected to join them, according to Valley political analyst Mike O’Neil.

O’Neil told KTAR News 92.3 FM it’s not uncommon for parties to cancel primary elections when they have the incumbent president. He said the Democrats did it when Barack Obama was up for reelection in 2012, and the GOP did it for George W. Bush in 2004.

The parties “are free to hold elections or not hold elections or set their own rules for how a president will be selected,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil said primaries or presidential preference elections would be no-win situations for Trump, who is pretty much assured of winning the nomination in any event.

“If Trump were to win big, it would be expected,” he said. “If somebody were to take a significant percentage of votes from him, then it would be an embarrassment to him.

“They’re trying to save him any potential for embarrassment.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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