Republicans Opposed to Trump Grapple With Consolidation

Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Tim Scott at the Fox Business Republican Candidate Debate held at the Reagan Library on September 27, 2023, in Simi Valley, California. (Photo by Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS—The failure of the Republican primary field to consolidate behind a consensus alternative to Donald Trump—plus the lack of any organized effort or mechanism to force out struggling candidates—is stymying GOP insiders working to block the former president from the 2024 nomination.

Trump leads his nearest competitor by 46 percentage points in national polling and fares almost as well in key early primary states. No candidates besides Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are cracking double digits. Yet less than 75 days until Iowa’s caucuses, none of the former president’s six other recognizable primary opponents appear to be going anywhere. Here in Nevada, along the sidelines of an annual Republican Jewish Coalition conference, GOP financiers and activists supporting alternative candidates conceded the obvious: It’s a major problem. 

“It has to consolidate,” said Fred Zeidman, a veteran Republican donor from Houston who is backing Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and ex-South Carolina governor. “That’s really the story.” Asked by The Dispatch if there was some way to push stragglers out of the race, or persuade them to pull the plug on their campaigns, Zeidman was candid: “No.” 

Several factors are working against consolidation. But one rather crucial obstacle to slimming the primary field is that even some Republican insiders particularly anxious about Trump winning the nomination are content to give their preferred candidate more time to prove viability. For instance, Eric Levine, a Republican donor from New York who’s backing Sen. Tim Scott,, believes Trump “is completely unqualified to be president.” 

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