by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Never Trump Republicans have all but given up on mounting a serious primary challenge to President Trump in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s failure to find Trump campaign collusion with Russia.
“I think there’s broad consensus that no one is moving toward a run,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant in California who for several months has been involved in discussions about dislodging Trump.
Trump remains broadly popular with Republican voters, and one of the most formidable potential challengers, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, announced over the weekend he would forgo a 2020 bid.
Some Never Trump Republicans are even contemplating quietly redirecting their energy toward boosting Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, saying this strategy might be their only viable option. Many Republicans uncomfortable with Trump view the former vice president, an old-school liberal, as an acceptable Democrat, at least compared to the modern liberals that comprise most of the rest of that party’s crowded field.
“Even if Mueller had obtained some sort of smoking gun, it probably still wouldn’t have moved [Trump’s] base,” conceded a Republican prominent in the Never Trump movement, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly. “Trump is going to be the Republican nominee.”