UPDATED WEDNESDAY MORNING: North Carolina’s Republican Party says it is not considering requiring candidates who participate in its presidential primaries to promise to support the nominee in the general election and forego running as third-party or unaffiliated candidates. State law appears to prohibit candidates from doing so, anyway.
POLITICO reported Monday that the Republican parties in North Carolina and Virginia were considering it as a way to thwart Donald Trump from upsetting the GOP establishment.
"The NCGOP has no intention of restricting or preventing any legitimate Republican candidate from running in North Carolina," Chairman Hasan Harnett said in a statement the party released Tuesday evening. "We will have a fair primary election and I welcome all presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, to our great state.”
The POLITICO story did not name the source of its information. It said state party staff members discussed it during a recent meeting, and that it was expected to be discussed further in the coming weeks.
Harnett didn’t dispute that some staffers might have discussed it, but said that he was "unaware of any staff meetings regarding Mr. Trump’s candidacy in North Carolina."
Harnett said state law might make the matter moot, citing a statute that says a candidate in a primary election for a particular party can only appear on the general election ballot if he or she is the nominee of that party.
More to the point would appear to be another provision in state law, which states:
“An individual whose name appeared on the ballot in a primary election preliminary to the general election shall not be eligible to have his name placed on the general election ballot as an unaffiliated candidate for the same office in that year.”
On Wednesday morning, Harnett responded to emailed questions. Asked if the party’s central committee could have been discussing the issue, he replied:
“I cannot speak to what individual members of the Central Committee discuss or do not discuss. We had a Central Committee meeting on Sunday and this matter, widely reported by the media but unsubstantiated with actual names from North Carolina, did not come up.”
Asked if the executive committee not the chairman would implement any changes in policy, he said:
“It would be the decision of the Executive Committee with respect to changing such rules within NCGOP. I can only speak for myself and what I would hope would happen and that is that all candidates be treated fairly, equally and allow them to run without changing the rules in the middle of the campaign because a particular camp does not like the current polling. Worth noting, North Carolina general statutes cover this issue already.”