Donald Trump was not expected to win the Republican nomination in 2016 but the incumbent president is the red-hot favourite to win the ticket in 2020.
The only sitting President to fail to win a primary was Franklin Peirce who, in 1857, lost the Democratic nomination to James Buchanan.
While his style and substance have made him one of the most loathed presidents in US history among Democrats and liberals, his protectionist, tax-cutting, pro-Israel, anti-Muslim instincts have endeared him to the Republican core.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 17 June 2019
His Make America Great Again slogan was at the heart of the election campaign in 2016 and the MAGA hats will be on show again in Orlando on Tuesday, 18 June, as he officially launches his campaign to be re-elected on 3 November 2020.
So who is daring to challenge him for the nomination?
The former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, 73, is the only serious politician who has formally announced plans to challenge Trump and seek the Republican nomination.
A candidate’s social media profile is not a very scientific measure of their popularity but the task facing Weld can be shown by comparing his Twitter account with President Trump.
Weld has 72,700 followers.
Trump has 61,100,000.
— Gov. Bill Weld (@GovBillWeld) 8 June 2019
So it’s fair to say Weld faces an uphill climb for name recognition and his case is not helped by the fact that in 2016 he was on the presidential ticket for another party.
He was the vice presidential running mate of Gary Johnson, of the Libertarian Party.
They received 4.5 million votes - the best showing for a third party in the US since 1996.
Prior to that Weld’s only other claim to fame was his shock victory in 1990 for the race to the governor’s mansion in Massachusetts - an overwhelmingly Democrat state.
— TheeLoganC (@TheeLoganC) 17 April 2019
Weld worked as a lobbyist for McDermott, Will & Emery and lobbied on behalf of Between defence contractor Raytheon, Sony electronics, New Balance shoes and the CNX Gas Corporation.
Oh, and one last thing - Weld’s logo for the 2020 presidential race portrays him as a fisher cat, that is a large weasel-like creature which is native to North America.
Fisher cats are known primarily for their loud and eerie screams.
But they’re not dangerous.
A bit like Weld then.
The only other name in the hat is James Peppe, a little-known investment adviser of Italian-American origin who grew up in Minnesota but now lives in Houston, Texas.
Peppe notes that he was excited in 2016 to witness the “upending of the political establishment” but said he was “stunned and disappointed” to see Americans elect a “self-promoting individual of such questionable character.”
— Peppe4President (@Peppe2020) 17 June 2019
On his website he writes in the third person: “In announcing his intention to seek the 2020 Republican Presidential nomination, Peppe expressed his firm belief that America needs a new kind of leadership, one that combines character with common-sense and the critical ability to relate to regular Americans. A true outsider who owes nothing to the establishment of fame, fortune and political power. In short, a leader who is one of us.”
Who Has Decided Against Standing?
The former Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, was in the running for the Republican nomination in 2016 but lost out to Trump.
He was widely thought to be planning a run against Trump but now appears to have backed down.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) 13 June 2019
Kasich told CNN last month: “There is no path right now for me. I don't see a way to get there," Kasich said in a Friday CNN interview, citing Trump's strong backing among GOP voters. Ninety percent of the Republican Party supports him," Kasich said. "It may be a shrinking Republican Party, but nevertheless.Maybe somebody wants to run and make a statement and that's fine, but I've never gotten involved in a political race where I didn't think I could win.”
Bob Corker stepped down as Republican Senator for Tennessee in January after 12 years - during which critics said he was "inert" - and was widely thought to be planning to challenge Trump for the 2020 nomination.
Corker had been heavily critical of the Trump administration and once referred to the White House as an "adult day care center."
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) 3 January 2019
But Corker’s courage has seeped out of him and last month he ruled out a run.
In a speech at the Nashville Rotary Club he said: “For someone to undertake that, they have to feel there's at least somewhat of an opportunity to actually be elected. I see no point in just doing it to run, you know, I just don't.”
Jeff Flake, a Republican Senator in Arizona, had criticised Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign when it emerged the tycoon had bragged about groping women's genitals.
Last year Flake, a Mormon, criticised Trump's behaviour last year as "reckless, outrageous and undignified".
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) 11 May 2019
He stepped down in January 2019 and promptly flattened assumptions that he would challenge Trump and instead signed up as a political pundit with CBS.
Since then he has reveled that a man carrying a rifle scope had been spotted at three locations in Arizona looking for Flake.
Flake said: “It was a man living out of his car. He told someone he had just attended a Trump rally."
In March he said he would prefer a Democrat win in 2020 rather than Trump and said: "Four years is difficult enough to unravel some of the damage" done internationally by the Trump administration.
In the spring of 2019 Larry Hogan, the Governor of Maryland, was heavily tipped to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination. But polling in May suggested he would win only 24 percent of the vote in his home state against Trump and on 1 June he confirmed he would not be challenging the President but would think about running in 2024.
Bill Kristol, who served under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, has been a long-time critic of Donald Trump and said in September last year his non-profit, Defending Democracy Together, was considering putting up a candidate to run against Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020.
Kristol was tipped to go for it himself but in an interview last week he said he was not going to go for it and would “prefer to help someone else”.