Post-shutdown, some Republicans see door for breaking news today , ‘slightly ajar’ to challenging Trump .
Former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., sat alone at the Don Pepi pizza shop inside New York’s Penn Station on Tuesday
afternoon, eating a piece of deep-dish, and mused about the possibility that a candidate could beat President Trump in the upcoming Republican primary races.
It wouldn’t be him; that morning he had declared he would not run for president in 2020. But what would it take to challenge Trump in a state like New Hampshire,
Flake mentioned that he’d given a few speeches in the Granite State, but had concluded that Trump’s hold on the Republican base — there and elsewhere — was too strong, due to the “tribal” nature of American politics.
“The door is now slightly ajar, but only for the right person,” commented a veteran and well-connected Republican
consultant in New Hampshire, who asked not to be identified by name.
Nonetheless, the question of whether Trump might face a viable primary challenge in 2020 has come up more
frequently of late in particular after the president was criticized by far-right supporters for agreeing to reopen the government without any money for a border wall.
“The best person would not be perceived as anti-Trump. A large portion of the party supports Trump, and if the
opponent is just a Never Trumper, that would in no fashion be enough to win.” A candidate who could effectively
challenge Trump, the consultant said, would have to be “energetic, a self-funder, [with a] positive message and serious effort with a realistic plan to win.”