California GOP opens path to send delegates to 2020 convention even if Trump isn't on ballot

California Republicans approved a rule change Sunday allowing the party to send delegates to the GOP’s national convention next summer even if President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE isn't on the state ballot, The Associated Press reported.

The measure came in response to a law signed by Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia to stop buying from automakers that backed Trump in emissions battle California governor sets special election to replace Katie Hill California regulators open investigation into power outages means to prevent wildfires MORE (D) earlier this year requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns as a prerequisite to appearing on the ballot.

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Newsom's bill was seen as a direct attack on Trump, and the state of California has already been sued by the president and the Republican National Committee (RNC).

RNC member Shawn Steel told the AP on Sunday that the new measure is a stopgap move but emphasized the disclosure rule will be defeated in court.

"It’s just planning ahead," he said.

The rule change would allow the party to hold a special convention after California's March 2020 primary and determine the candidate, in this case Trump, and organize delegates to send to the convention.

Unlike the leading Democratic candidates, Trump has refused to publicly disclose his tax returns.

If the disclosure law is not defeated, Trump could simply not participate on the California Republican primary ballot given that the RNC does not require candidates to appear on ballots in all 50 states. 

He would most likely not have trouble securing the nomination even without California's delegates.

"This measure prevents the Democrats from keeping the California Republican Party from sending a full slate of delegates to the national convention," former California GOP Chairman Ron Nehring told The Hill.

"The Constitution is pretty clear concerning the qualifications for being president, and the courts are likely to see the Democrats’ attempt to add their own layer of qualifications, so I don’t expect their law to hold up for long. Nonetheless, the party appears to have found a solid way around it," he added.