O-Pinion

Updated: N.C. GOP officials may try to keep Donald Trump out of the primary. They shouldn’t

N.C. GOP officials want Donald Trump to pledge his support for the eventual Republican presidential nominee.
N.C. GOP officials want Donald Trump to pledge his support for the eventual Republican presidential nominee. GETTY

In case you missed it, we said last month that Donald Trump wasn’t going to win the North Carolina primary.

We also said it two weeks ago.

We still feel that way. But we think it should be your call.

Politico reported last night that the North Carolina GOP is contemplating a new requirement that candidates pledge to support the Republican presidential nominee, no matter who it is, and not run for a third-party bid. If a candidate doesn’t make the pledge, he or she won’t be on the Republican primary ballot on March 1.

It’s a rule that would be aimed directly at Trump, who declined to make that pledge at a GOP debate earlier this month.

Politico reports that both North Carolina and Virginia GOP officials are considering the mandate. N.C. officials have talked with attorneys about how best to implement it.

 

Party officials are thinking campaign strategy here, but the call on who North Carolinians want to represent the Republican party should come from North Carolinians.

Politico says that party officials hope to compel Trump to make the pledge if wants North Carolina’s electoral votes. We’re guessing Trump might not play along here, and that blowback from Trump supporters and others will nudge N.C. officials to reconsider.

They should. It’s a bad idea for their party’s voters, no matter which candidate they support.

Update, 6 p.m.: After letting the story grow nationally Tuesday, NCGOP Chairman Hasan Harnett finally ended the talk of Trump’s possible N.C. primary exclusion.

“We will have a fair primary election and I welcome all Presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, to our great state,” Harnett said in a statement.

Harnett didn’t deny particulars of the Politico report, saying only that he knew of no “meetings” that discussed making Trump take a GOP loyalty pledge. Harnett did note that N.C. law “may” make such a pledge a moot point. The law – NCGS 163-213.6 – says that a candidate in one party’s primary “shall have his name placed on the general election ballot only as a nominee of that particular party.”

Perhaps that’s what GOP officials were discussing with lawyers, according to the Politco report. Should Trump lose the GOP nomination and want to run, anyway, you can bet his lawyers will be investigating, too.

Peter St. Onge

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