Sitting presidents have rarely had to face a primary fight from party insiders. If former governor and would-be presidential candidate Jeb Bush has his way, however, Trump might have to run through the primaries once again. In an interview on “The Axe Files,” Jeb Bush expressed hopes that a Republican would step forward and challenge Trump in the 2020 Republican Primary.
Bush has made it clear, however, that he doesn’t plan to make the challenge himself. While Bush was at one time the frontrunner in the 2016 Republican Primary, he quickly fizzled out. Bush attracted a lot of corporate donations but never resonated with the crowds.
Then-candidate Trump labeled Bush “low energy,” an insult Jeb could never recover from. Bush may have also suffered from the same anti-establishment trends that sucked energy out of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Should President Trump be worried? As of now, probably not. While sitting presidents have been challenged in primaries, none have ever lost. Gerald R. Ford came close to losing to Ronald Reagan in 1976. However, Ford became president only after Richard Nixon resigned, not via popular vote.
Perhaps most important, Trump remains popular among Republicans, who would ultimately determine any primary race. Gallup reports that 90 percent of Republicans support President Trump.
Already, at least one Republican has pledged to challenge Trump. Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld has established an exploratory committee and has claimed that Trumps’ presidency is “calculated to destroy the interest of the United States.”
The rumor mill has been busy with other potential challengers as well. Former Ohio governor John Kasich has reportedly been considering a challenge. While Kasich isn’t likely to unseat Trump, he might bruise the president in the vital Midwest.
President Trump, however, has been working with the GOP to make primary challenges more difficult. Trump’s team has been working to change state rules and to push out potential challengers before they can build momentum. Trump himself has regularly been holding campaign-like rallies in key states as well. Any primary challengers will face a steep uphill battle.