Nevada GOP could let Trump bypass its nominating caucuses

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Nevada Republican Party next month will consider bypassing its presidential nominating caucuses next year by having governing members endorse President Donald Trump and avoid any primary challenge.

The Nevada GOP's governing central committee will vote at its September meeting whether to approve the change, allowing the central committee members to then commit the state's Republican delegates all for the president.

``The Nevada Republican Party is firmly behind President Donald J. Trump's re-election campaign,'' Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald said in a statement. ``We are all in and are excited to get to work on sending President Trump back to the White House for four more years!''

The potential rule change comes as the Republican National Committee has joined forces with the president's re-election bid, four years after Trump cleared a crowded field of GOP challengers, leaving corners of opposition within his party.

That opposition has become quieter, positioning Trump as all-but-assured to win his party's nomination next year.

The Republican National Committee this year issued a nonbinding resolution that declares the party's undivided support for Trump, and Republicans in South Carolina are set to consider next month whether to cancel their primary, shielding the president from an inter-party contest.

The Nevada Republican Party's proposes rule change ``isn't about any kind of conspiracy theory about protecting the president,'' said Nevada GOP spokesman Keith Schipper.

``He's going to be the nominee,'' Schipper said. ``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.''

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, the only Republican who has so far declared he's challenging Trump for the party's nomination, is considered a longshot.

``We don't elect Presidents by acclamation in America,'' Weld said in a Friday statement on the Nevada GOP proposal. ``Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club, and this is just one more example. Republicans deserve better.''

If the Nevada GOP central committee approves the change at a Sept. 7 meeting in Winnemucca, the group could cast a vote as soon as that day to bind their delegates to vote for Trump.

Schipper said the party would still hold caucuses on Feb. 25, 2020, but the neighborhood meetings would be of a much smaller scale and solely set up to pick which Nevada residents are delegates to the national GOP convention.