Published On: Wed, Sep 13th, 2023

It’s likely too late for new hopefuls to jump into the 2024 GOP presidential primary

“To get on the ballot in states isn’t that hard, but it’s time-consuming and can be expensive,” Trainer said. “These folks’ carriage in their fantasy land is about to turn into a pumpkin.”

In other words, the field is all but set, and Republicans who want someone other than Trump know who their choices are now.

Two of the early states, Nevada and South Carolina, have filing deadlines next month, before Virginia’s Nov. 7 state legislative elections. That matters because Youngkin has sidestepped questions about a late entry in to the 2024 sweepstakes by saying he is focused on the legislative races.

“I’m not in Iowa at the state fair, I was actually at the Rockingham County fair,” Youngkin said on Fox News Sunday Sept. 10. “I’m campaigning in Virginia for Virginians, not around the country.”

While neither of those states require candidates to submit voter-signed petitions, their deadlines will pass before Youngkin’s timetable. And many states do require campaigns to collect signatures, a process that can create a logistical logjam for candidates who must deploy resources to several of them at once.

Two more states, Alabama and Arkansas, have filing deadlines within a week of the Virginia elections, and a flurry of states, including delegate-rich California and Texas, close their windows in December.

For a candidate to appear on the ballot in many of the December-deadline states, he or she would already have to be collecting signatures — and there’s no shadow campaign going on right now, according to GOP operatives who are paying close attention to the race.

It would be hard enough for a candidate to get in now and qualify in all of those states, but waiting until November would make the task much harder because it would mean ceding crucial early primary states.

“If you’re just talking about the nuts and bolts on how to launch a presidential campaign, especially after giving up on two of the first four states, especially one like South Carolina that’s so big, how do you run a March-only race and be successful?” said a GOP strategist who is supporting one of the candidates. “It’s just never going to happen.”

In addition to the ballot-access hurdles, political operatives say, the graveyard of past presidential campaigns is littered with late entrants who lacked the polish of rivals who spent months shaking hands in early states, dealing with the crush of scrutiny from the media and debating opponents.

Mike DuHaime, a former political director at the Republican National Committee and veteran of several presidential campaigns, said that there are many reasons beyond ballot access that make an 11th-hour entry difficult.

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