Here’s an open challenge to anyone who claims to be American and also claims to value open and free elections.

Following the lead of other states, including Nevada, South Carolina and Kansas, the Republican Party of Minnesota has already decided who win will that state’s presidential primary next year. There has not been one vote cast and there will not be, in fact. The state Republican Party has declared a winner.

President Donald Trump will be the only choice on the ballot in Minnesota's Republican presidential primary, even though he's not the only candidate.

Unlike other states where GOP leaders said they canceled their 2020 presidential primary under the (false) guise of saving money, Minnesota is still holding its primary for Republican voters but only one name will appear: President Trump.

Take a minute and let that sink in.

The Minnesota state Republican Party has decided voters won't have any alternatives. You have one choice.

The state party chairwoman, Jennifer Carnahan, sent a letter to the Minnesota Secretary of State last month outlining the party's "determination of candidates" for the March 3, 2020 Republican primary ballot. Trump is the only name listed.

Absent are three other Republicans running, including former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.

"The idea that we're taking our cues from North Korea or the Soviet Union in terms of voter access and voter participation just seems weird to me," Sanford said in an interview about the decision in Minnesota.

Lucy Caldwell, who is Walsh's campaign manager, called it "appalling but unsurprising news, given the hold that Trump's cult of personality has over some of these state party leaders."

State law in Minnesota leaves it up to the political parties to determine which candidates’ names are placed on the presidential nomination primary ballots. The deadline for that filing is Dec. 31, meaning the Minnesota GOP submitted its ballot more than two months earlier than necessary.

The political parties are also allowed to request a space for voters to identify write-in candidates, or a space for voters to choose that delegates to the national party convention remain uncommitted. The state Republican Party made neither of those requests, said a spokesman for the Minnesota Secretary of State's office.

Minnesota state law says the ballot cannot be changed once it's set.

It should be noted this is not the first time this has happened.

It's actually not unheard of for political parties to push back against internal dissent to a sitting president. While primary challenges to incumbent presidents face long odds, they can reveal the incumbent's weaknesses. In 1992, Pat Buchanan won 24 percent of the Minnesota GOP vote when he challenged President George H.W. Bush. Later that year, Bush lost the presidency to Bill Clinton.

Buchanan also fared well in Iowa and New Hampshire that year.

What anyone with any sense of pride in our open election process knows is that President Trump does not need this kind of help. No one has said his supporters cannot vote for him and, in reality, he would have won a legitimate Republican primary in Minnesota.

The fact that state party leaders within the Republican Party are doing something you expect to see in a country run by a dictator is revolting. It is a slap in the face to anyone who has fought (and died) to protect for our right to vote.

The GOP leaders in these states should be ashamed of themselves. What they are doing is 100 percent un-American.

POLITICAL COURT

In theory, courts at all levels are not supposed to be political. They may rule on political issues but the court should hear cases and make rulings based on the law.

That notion should especially be true for the United States Supreme Court. When it comes to third-party candidates, the U.S. Supreme Court has been saying “get lost” for some time now.

As detailed in the Nov. 1, 2019 issue of Ballot Access News, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear all ballot access laws cases since 1992 unless the Republican Party or Democratic Party was part of the filing plaintiffs.

Ballot Access News editor Richard Winger detailed how even when lower courts have split rulings on ballot access cases brought by third-party or independent candidates the Supreme Court still will not hear the case.

However, when the plaintiff is a Republican Party or Democratic Party plaintiff trying to restrict easier ballot access laws, the Supreme Court not only will hear the case but overturns lower court decisions, even when there has not been a split decision, which is what often triggers a case going to the high court.

Don’t ever think that courts don’t have political bias. It goes all the way to top. Old Lady Justice is supposed to be blind but it in reality often sees through political party-colored glasses.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former editor for the Barrow News-Journal. He has earned awards for his columns from the National Newspaper Association, the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Sports Writers Association. He welcomes feedback at pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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