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OPINION: Primary purge

['Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely']
['Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely']

Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely

Republican Party supporters across the United States should know within a couple of days whether they will have any say in the choice of which candidate their state party will support.

State committees have until Oct. 1 to advise the Republican National Committee of the formal rules for candidate selection in that state. As of the writing of this column four states have already declared they will forgo any primary or caucus process and automatically give their state's votes to President Donald Trump. Several other states are also considering this same action.

Trump is not running unopposed for the nomination, so the decisions to give him the votes is not being met without some controversy. The three other candidates, declared so far, are threatening legal action to force states to hold primaries or caucuses.

Only one state, New Hampshire, requires primaries be held by state law. State committees cancelling the primary votes are suggesting it is an appropriate way to save resources for the general election since the president is overwhelming supported by Republican voters.

They may well be right about the level of the president's support within the party, but they may unintentionally be driving some of their needed general election voters away.

While the chief purpose of a primary vote is to choose the Party nominee, it can also be an effective referendum on the incumbent. Trump may well win a Primary but holding the vote will allow those who do not support him to express their concerns prior to the general election. Giving them their say early in the process could help keep them engaged with the party in the general.

The danger is that by not giving these party members an opportunity to express their opposition to Trump before the general election, they may decide to do so in the general election by either staying at home or even voting for another candidate.

Trump's base is not strong enough that he can afford to take that chance. It may prove costlier for him and the GOP to cancel the primaries rather than holding them

Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister who lives in Springhill.

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