2020 Republican Party presidential primaries

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2020 Republican Party presidential primaries

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2,550[a] delegate votes (2,440 pledged and 110 unpledged) to the Republican National Convention[1]
1,276[1] delegates votes needed to win

Previous Republican nominee

Donald Trump

The 2020 Republican Party presidential primaries and caucuses will be a series of elections taking place in many U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. These events will elect most of the 2,550[a] delegates to send to the Republican National Convention. Delegates to the national convention may otherwise be elected by the respective state party organizations. The delegates to the national convention will vote, by ballot, to select the Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2020 election, where the majority will be bound by the results of their respective state contests on the first ballot. The delegates also approve the party platform and vice-presidential nominee.

President Donald Trump informally launched his bid for re-election on February 18, 2017. He was followed by former governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, who announced his campaign on April 15, 2019, and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, who declared his candidacy on August 25, 2019. Former governor of South Carolina and U.S. representative Mark Sanford launched the third primary challenge on September 8, 2019.

In February 2019, the Republican National Committee voted to provide undivided support to the incumbent president, Donald Trump.[2][3] The state committees of Kansas, South Carolina and Nevada decided in early September 2019 to cancel their primaries and caucuses.[4] The Arizona Republican Party, on September 9, also cancelled their primary.[5] On September 21, the Alaska Republican Party cancelled their primary.[6]


Numerous pundits, journalists and politicians have speculated that President Donald Trump might face a significant Republican primary challenger in 2020 because of his historic unpopularity in polls, his association with allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and his support of unpopular policies.[7][8][9]

After re-enrolling as a Republican in January 2019,[10] former Republican governor of Massachusetts and 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee Bill Weld announced the formation of a 2020 presidential exploratory committee on February 15, 2019.[11] Weld announced his 2020 presidential candidacy on April 15, 2019.[12] Weld is considered a long-shot challenger because of Trump's popularity with Republicans; furthermore, Weld's views on abortion rights, gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and other issues conflict with conservative positions.[13]

Former U.S. representative Joe Walsh was a strong Trump supporter in 2016, but gradually became critical of the president. On August 25, 2019, Walsh officially declared his candidacy against Trump, calling Trump an "unfit con man".[14]

In 2017, there were rumors of a potential bipartisan ticket consisting of Republican Ohio governor and 2016 presidential candidate John Kasich and Democratic Colorado governor John Hickenlooper.[15] Kasich and Hickenlooper denied those rumors.[16][17] In November 2018, however, Kasich asserted that he was "very seriously" considering a White House bid in 2020.[18] In August 2019, he indicated that he did not see a path to victory over Trump in a Republican primary at that time, but that his opinion might change in the future.[19]

Former South Carolina governor and former U.S. representative Mark Sanford said in August 2019 that he intended to make a decision by September 2, 2019 about a potential 2020 presidential bid,[20][21] but did not officially declare his candidacy until September 8 due to Hurricane Dorian.[22]

Some prominent Trump critics within the GOP, including 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina,[23] former U.S. senator Jeff Flake,[24] Maryland governor Larry Hogan,[25] and former Massachusetts governor and current U.S. senator Mitt Romney,[26] have stated that they will not run for president in 2020.

Declared major candidates[edit]

Name Born Experience Home state Campaign
Announcement date
Mark Sanford, Official Portrait, 113th Congress (cropped).jpg
Mark Sanford
May 28, 1960
(age 59)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
U.S. representative from SC-01 (1995–2001, 2013–2019)
Governor of South Carolina (2003–2011)
Flag of South Carolina.svg
South Carolina
Mark Sanford 2020.png
Campaign: September 8, 2019[22]
FEC filing[27]
Donald Trump official portrait (cropped).jpg
Donald Trump
June 14, 1946
(age 73)
Queens, New York
President of the United States (2017–present)
Businessman, television personality, real estate developer
Flag of New York.svg
New York
Campaign (informal): February 17, 2017
Campaign (official): June 18, 2019

FEC filing[28]
Rep Joe Walsh.jpg
Joe Walsh
December 27, 1961
(age 57)
North Barrington, Illinois
U.S. representative from IL-08 (2011–2013)
Conservative talk radio host
Flag of Illinois.svg
Joe Walsh 2020 Logo-black.svg
Campaign: August 25, 2019
FEC filing[29]
Bill Weld campaign portrait.jpg
Bill Weld
July 31, 1945
(age 74)
Smithtown, New York
Governor of Massachusetts (1991–1997)
Libertarian nominee for Vice President in 2016
Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts in 1996
Flag of Massachusetts.svg
Bill Weld campaign 2020.png
Exploratory committee: February 15, 2019
Campaign: April 15, 2019

FEC filing[30]

Besides the four major candidates, more than 100 others who have not met the criteria above to be deemed major have also filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in the 2020 Republican Party primaries.[31] Other notable candidates who remain active in the campaign include:

Individuals who have publicly expressed interest[edit]

Individuals in this section have expressed an interest in running for president within the last six months, as of October 2019.

Declined to be candidates[edit]

The individuals in this section have been the subject of 2020 presidential speculation, but have publicly stated that they will not seek the White House in 2020.


The Republican National Committee (RNC) has made no plans to host any official primary debates. On May 3, 2018, the party voted to eliminate their debate committee, which, according to CNN, served as "a warning to would-be Republican rivals of President Donald Trump about his strong support among party loyalists."[97]

Business Insider announced on September 10, 2019, that it would host a debate on September 24 featuring two of Trump's primary challengers. It took place at the news outlet's headquarters in New York City, and was hosted by Business Insider's CEO Henry Blodgett, politics editor Anthony Fisher, and columnist Linette Lopez.[98] The debate was not sanctioned by the Republican Party.[99] Walsh and Weld had agreed to attend, but Sanford had a scheduling conflict and eventually declined.[100][101] An invitation was also sent to the president, but he also declined.[101] Trump had previously declined any interest in participating in any primary debates, saying that he was "not looking to give them any credibility."[102]

Cancellation of state caucuses or primaries[edit]

The Washington Examiner reported on December 19, 2018, that the South Carolina Republican Party had not ruled out forgoing a primary contest to protect Trump from any primary challengers. Party chairman Drew McKissick stated, “Considering the fact that the entire party supports the president, we’ll end up doing what’s in the president’s best interest.”[103] On January 24, another Washington Examiner report indicated that the Kansas Republican Party was "likely" to scrap its presidential caucus to "save resources".[104]

In August 2019, the Associated Press reported that the Nevada Republican Party was also contemplating canceling their caucuses, with the state party spokesman, Keith Schipper, stating that it "isn't about any kind of conspiracy theory about protecting the president ... He's going to be the nominee ... This is about protecting resources to make sure that the president wins in Nevada and that Republicans up and down the ballot win in 2020."[105]

Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina's state committees officially voted on September 7, 2019, to cancel their caucus and primary.[4] The Arizona state Republican Party indicated two days later that it will not hold a primary.[5] These four were joined by the Alaska state Republican party on September 21, when its central committee announced they would not hold a presidential primary.[106]

On September 6, both of Trump's main challengers at the time, Bill Weld and Joe Walsh, criticized these cancellations as undemocratic.[107] The Trump campaign and GOP officials cited the fact that Republicans canceled several state primaries when George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush sought a second term in 1992 and 2004, respectively; and Democrats scrapped some of their primaries when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were seeking reelection in 1996 and 2012, respectively.[108][109] Weld and Walsh were joined by Mark Sanford in a joint op-ed in the Washington Post on September 13, 2019 which criticized the party for cancelling those primaries.[110]



Active campaign
Exploratory committee
Midterm elections
Iowa caucuses
Super Tuesday
Republican convention
Bill Weld 2020 presidential campaignJoe Walsh 2020 presidential campaignDonald Trump 2020 presidential campaignMark Sanford 2020 presidential campaign


Incumbent President Donald Trump speaking at his first campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida, on February 18, 2017


Bill Weld announcing the formation of his exploratory committee on February 15, 2019
  • January 17: Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld changes his voter registration from Libertarian back to Republican, furthering speculation he will announce a primary challenge against Trump.[115]
  • January 23: The Republican National Committee votes unanimously to express "undivided support" of Trump's "effective presidency".[2]
  • February 11: President Trump holds his first mass rally since assuming the presidency in El Paso, Texas, with Brad Parscale, John Cornyn, Lance Berkman, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr.[116]
  • February 15: Weld announces the formation of an exploratory committee, becoming the president's first official notable challenger.[117]
  • April 15: Weld officially announces his candidacy.[118]
  • June 1: Speculative challenger Maryland governor Larry Hogan announces that he will not run against Trump in the primary.[119]
  • June 18: Trump formally launches his 2020 re-election campaign at a rally in Orlando, Florida, with Donald Trump Jr., Mike Pence, Melania Trump, Karen Pence, Lara Trump, and Sarah Sanders.[120]
  • July 30: Intending to force President Trump to reveal his taxes, Democratic California governor Gavin Newsom signs a bill into state law requiring that presidential candidates release the last five years of their tax returns in order to qualify for the California primary ballot.[121] Republican presidential candidate Rocky De La Fuente files suit directly challenging the constitutionality of the law.[122]
  • August 5–6: Additional lawsuits are filed by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, the California Republican Party, and the conservative activist group Judicial Watch to challenge the California law requiring candidates to release their tax returns.[123][124]
  • August 25: Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh officially announces his candidacy, becoming the president's second official notable challenger.[125]
  • September 7: Three state committees vote to cancel their respective primaries/caucuses: Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina.[4]
  • September 8:
    • Former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford officially announces his candidacy, becoming the president’s third notable challenger.[22]
    • As the California law requiring candidates to disclose their tax returns works its way through the courts, the California Republican Party modifies its delegate selection rules as a stop-gap measure, changing its primary from a binding to a non-binding one with a party state convention selecting its national convention delegates directly.[126]
  • September 9: The Arizona Republican Party officially notifies Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs that they will scrap the Arizona Republican primary.[5]
  • September 21: The Alaska Republican Party cancels its parties' primary.[6]
  • October 1: Deadline for state parties to file delegate selection plans with the Republican National Committee[127]

Primary and caucus calendar[edit]

The following anticipated primary and caucus dates may change depending on legislation passed before the scheduled primary dates.[128]

  • March 3: Super Tuesday (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia primaries)[128]
  • March 7: Louisiana primary[128]
  • March 8: Puerto Rico primary[128]
  • March 10: Hawaii caucuses; Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington primaries[128]
  • March 17: Florida, Illinois, and Ohio primaries[128]
  • April 7: Wisconsin primary[128]
  • April 28: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island primaries[128]
  • May 5: Indiana primary[128]
  • May 12: Nebraska and West Virginia primaries[128]
  • May 19: Kentucky and Oregon primaries[128]
  • June 2: Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota primaries[128]
Other primaries and caucuses
  • Not yet determined (dates of 2016 primaries/caucuses listed in parentheses): North Dakota (by March 1), Wyoming (March 1), Virgin Islands (March 10), and Northern Mariana Islands (March 15) caucuses (February 20), and Georgia (March 1) primaries; District of Columbia, Guam (March 12), American Samoa (March 22) conventions.[128]
  • Cancellations: Alaska,[6] Arizona,[5] Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina.[4]

National convention[edit]

Bids for the Republican National Convention were solicited in the fall of 2017, with finalists being announced early the following spring. On July 18, 2018, Charlotte, North Carolina's Spectrum Center was chosen unanimously as the site of the convention.[113]


Primary election polling[edit]


Campaign finance[edit]

This is an overview of the money used by each campaign as it is reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and released on July 15, 2019. Totals raised include loans from the candidate and transfers from other campaign committees. The last column, Cash On Hand (COH), has been calculated by subtracting the "spent" amount from the "raised" amount, thereby showing the remaining cash each campaign had available for its future spending as of June 30, 2019.

Candidate Campaign committee (as of June 30, 2019)
Total raised Ind. contrib. <$200
(as % of
Debt Spent COH
Sanford did not file
Trump[129] $124,369,311 $43,802,111 61.37% $294,070 $75,243,648 $56,737,566
Walsh did not file
Weld[130] $871,852 $691,052 35.53% $226,257 $572,627 $299,225

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The overall number of pledged delegates is subject to change, as possible penalty/bonus delegates (awarded for each states' scheduled election date and state party gains/losses in the 2019 elections) are also not yet included.[1]


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