Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) "said Thursday he expects to make a springtime trip to New Hampshire as he weighs a 2020 challenge to" President Trump "— and accused the Republican National Committee of going to extraordinary lengths to shield the president from a potentially draining primary."
Hogan: "Typically they try to be fair arbiters of a process and I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been involved in the Republican Party for most of my life. ... And the question is, what are they afraid of?" (Politico)
Hogan said Thursday “he’s not launching a primary challenge against ... Trump unless the president’s political standing within his own party weakens dramatically.”
Hogan, “who was elected to his second term last fall, has emerged as the new best hope of a small group of so-called Never Trump Republicans now seeking a prominent GOP official to fight Trump for his party’s presidential nomination in 2020. In a Thursday interview … the 62-year-old Republican raised serious concerns about Trump’s leadership but said he had no interest in a ‘kamikaze mission.’”
Hogan: “My goal is not to just make the incumbent president lose in the general election. I’m not going to do that. If they’re looking for someone just to be a spoiler or to throw myself on a grenade to help someone else, that’s not me. Somebody else might be motivated that way. But I’ve got a state to run.”
Trump’s “campaign has taken extraordinary steps in cementing control over the … RNC and the broader nomination process as it seeks to minimize the risk of any potential challenger doing the same to the president. That state-by-state effort has included weighing in on local party races and the convention delegate selection process. The campaign is also closely monitoring discussions in some states, including South Carolina, to do away with their 2020 Republican primary contests entirely." (AP)
CALIFORNIA. “There’s at least one thing California Republicans can still agree on: To recover from brutal midterm election losses, they need to raise a lot more money.”
“But when delegates vote to elect the party’s next chair this weekend, they’ll weigh pitches from two front-running candidates with very different views about just how to put Republicans on the offensive again in a blue state that’s a reliable cash machine for Democrats.”
“Jessica Patterson, chief executive of California Trailblazers, a group that trains Republican legislative candidates, has said her long-standing rapport with top-dollar donors will help move the party forward. But Travis Allen, the hard-charging former gubernatorial candidate running against her, has decried “special-interest billionaires” who fund the party and says he wants to instead fill its coffers with an unprecedented grass-roots fundraising effort that would ask thousands of “ordinary California Republicans” to make small monthly contributions.” (Los Angeles Times)
MICHIGAN. “As the Michigan Republican Party prepares to elect its new leader, both candidates for the position have their eyes set on a 2020 victory for ... Trump and keeping the state House majority.
Former state lawmaker Laura Cox and GOP field organizer Gina Barr will attempt to woo delegates at the Michigan Republican Party convention Saturday in Lansing to replace outgoing Chairman Ron Weiser, who has not endorsed either candidate. Cox has received endorsements from many GOP elected officials and Trump's re-election campaign.” (Detroit News)
PICKING HIS SPOTS. “When Chicago police accused actor ... Smollett of fabricating a story about being attacked by MAGA-loving bigots,” Trump was quick to weigh in: “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?”
“And when Catholic high school student Nick Sandmann filed a lawsuit against The Washington Post this week over its coverage of last month’s confrontation between the teenager and a Native American elder, Trump couldn’t help himself: “Go get them Nick… Fake News!”
“But more than 24 hours after news broke that a Coast Guard officer—an avowed white nationalist—was allegedly plotting to kill Democratic politicians and journalists, Trump has, at least so far, not said a word.” (Politico)