Walsh for President campaign faces challenging battle for Republican nomination

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy: This Week/ABC Courtesy: This Week/ABC
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"I'm going to run for president and I'm happy to be on your show announcing my candidacy,"Joe Walsh told This Week host George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning.

It's something we've heard a lot this year.  But this time it comes from a conservative Republican challenging President Donald Trump.  Does he have a chance?

Walsh, a former one-term Illinois Congressman and current conservative political commentator, publicly supported Trump during the 2016 presidential race.  Three years later, he's changed his mind.

"I'm running because he's unfit.  Somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative.  The country is sick of this guy's tantrum.  He's a child," Walsh said.

He joins former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld in running against Trump in the Republican primary.

"I think there's likely no Republican who could challenge Donald Trump and beat him," said Dr. Neal Allen, political scientist from Wichita State University.  "You can imagine somebody like Mitt Romney making things interesting.  But just the incentives are wrong for any Republican with a career to run against Trump.  So the two candidates we have right now are a former congressman who got beat for reelection eight years ago and a former governor of Massachusetts who's so liberal that he fits better in either the Democratic or the Libertarian Parties than the Republican Party.  It's just not serious.  I mean Trump is, while unpopular among Independents and Democrats, he's still solid among Republicans."

Political analysts like Dr. Allen say name recognition is a just one reason why the incumbent holds such power in the bid for re-election.  Wichita area voters we spoke with certainly didn't recognize either of the challengers.

"No," laughed Shannon Van Sickle and Honesty Powell.

"I've heard the Joe Walsh name," said Michael Holland.  "But I don't know where I've heard it from."

"This isn't a situation like Jimmy Carter in 1980 or Gerald Ford in 1976, where the parties genuinely split," Dr. Allen said.  "The Republicans really are backing Donald Trump."

Those we spoke with did like the idea of having more choices on the ballot.

Honesty Powell and Shannon Van Sickle eagerly nodded their heads yes, to that question.

"I think, as a whole, everybody wants as many options as possible," Natalie Holland said.

But, Dr. Allen says, that chance may not even develop in Kansas, despite the Walsh and Weld campaigns. 

"Many states, and Kansas might be one of them, on the Republican side are actually not going to have their primary.  In the Republican rules you can do that," Dr. Allen explained.  

The Kansas Republican Party  has not set a date for a 2020 primary at this time.

"It is useful to have someone to vote against.  And there'll be a protest vote," Dr. Allen said.  "But my guess is Walsh, he'll be lucky to get over 10%."