- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2019

Former GOP Rep. Mark Sanford on Friday said he hopes to make a decision by the end of the summer on whether he’ll mount a primary challenge to President Trump in 2020.

“To state the obvious, it’s a daunting — I mean, gargantuan, huge task that’s difficult to get your arms around,” Mr. Sanford said on MSNBC. “So I’m talking to a lot of folks about the nuts and bolts of how you would do that, and I’ve got a couple weeks still to go.”

As for a timeline on the decision, Mr. Sanford said: “Not end of September, [because] you’re kind of running out of time at that point, but certainly end of summer.”

Mr. Sanford has cited the federal debt and deficits as animating issues for a would-be run.

“He’s going to sign here a budget deal that I think is disastrous if you’re a conservative Republican and believe in math,” Mr. Sanford said of the president.

That’s a reference to a new two-year deal that will allow the government to spend about $320 billion more on discretionary programs than what’s allowed under current law. It would also suspend the debt ceiling through July 2021 — well after the next presidential election.

Still, there are few indications that the debt is anywhere near the top of the concerns of voters in either party, and spending more money is seemingly one of the only things Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have agreed on recently.

Mr. Sanford himself lost a GOP primary contest in 2018, after he had emerged as one of the few Republican voices in Congress willing to criticize Mr. Trump publicly.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is running against Mr. Trump for the GOP nomination, but his campaign hasn’t gained much traction. The president has consistently retained sky-high support among Republican and conservative voters.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who some dissatisfied conservatives had eyed as a Republican who could challenge Mr. Trump, said earlier this year he won’t be a candidate for president in 2020.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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