Supporters appointed to key party positions ahead of national convention
'Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is trying to change party rules to prevent his Republican rivals from challenging the president in 2020.
The battle to secure the GOP nomination, described by aides as the “most aggressive ever launched”, involves a state-by-state effort to crush internal opposition ahead of the election.
While Mr Trump is almost certain to win Republican backing in August next year, his team are detemined to avoid an embarrassing fight that could damage his chances against any Democratic candidate.
The new rules, similar to those adopted in Iowa more than a year ago, would make it more difficult for challengers to send anti-Trump delegates to the national convention.
In 2016 virutally all of Iowa’s delegates preferred Texas senator Ted Cruz – regardless of the wishes of party leaders or voters.
“It was embarrassing,” said Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufman. ”It was troubling. To be honest with you, it made me mad. Donald Trump won the Republican nomination fair and square. That was about people not accepting a loss.”
For 2020, a nominating committee selected by a pro-Trump state central committee will control the delegate selection process.
One early success came in Massachusetts last month when Jim Lyons was chosen to serve as the state party chairman over the candidate backed by Republican governor Charlie Baker, a critic of the president.
Another ally, Stephen Stepanek, was elected last week as state party chairman in New Hampshire, where party leaders must technically remain neutral because of its status as the nation's first primary.
The campaign is also relying on endorsements, lobbying and intense monitoring of potential primary challengers, such as former Ohio governor John Kasich.'
Read more: Trump 2020 campaign moves to crush any challengers to president by changing Republican party rules