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Another pretender has come forward to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination – this one a former congressman and right-wing radio jock by the name of Joe Walsh.

The 57-year-old is a former Tea Party knuckle-dragger who once advised Barack Obama to secure the borders with "moats and alligators.” He was a Trump acolyte in 2016, so much so that he tweeted, “If Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket. You in?”

He claims to regret having made racial slurs in his past and also regrets having supported a power-drunk Mr. Trump. “The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum. He’s a child … Somebody’s got to punch him in the face every single day.”

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Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh says he'll challenge President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020.The Associated Press

Joe Walsh doesn’t stand a chance of beating the destabilizer-in-chief. Nor does William Weld, who entered the race in April; or Mark Sanford, the ex South Carolina governor who is expected to jump in this weekend; or former Ohio governor John Kasich, who is visiting New Hampshire to test the waters next month.

But the question is not whether they can win or not. It’s whether, in taking on Mr. Trump from within, they can make re-election more difficult for him.

There’s a good chance that will happen. Given the level of animosity of Never-Trumpers, a solid challenger could trigger an anti-Trump vote in the New Hampshire primary large enough to rock the party.

Given Mr. Trump’s low approval rating, which hovers just above 40 per cent – a road-to-ruin number should it hold – it’s remarkable how his team has been able to tamp down dissent within the party. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of repressed opposition to him that’s ready to detonate if it’s given the opportunity.

The stakes are incredibly high. If he is rewarded for his unhinged narcissistic stewardship with a victory, there’s no telling where his megalomania will take him. He could turn tyrannical.

The Granite State primary, which has sometimes proved vexatious for frontrunners, could see Trump opponents from other states pouring in to help a challenger. New Hampshire Democrats will be only too ready to lend a hand to a Grand Old Party insurgent. If what I’m hearing from Canadians is any indication, many from north of the border will be sending cheques to an anti-Trump candidate or crossing the border to provide support.

For protest votes in the primaries that undercut sitting presidents, think of Ted Kennedy versus Jimmy Carter in 1980, or Senator Eugene McCarthy’s New Hampshire campaign against Lyndon Johnson in 1968, which prompted LBJ to announce that he would not seek re-election. On the Republican side, there’s the example of nationalist Pat Buchanan’s insurgency in 1992 against George H. W. Bush. He won 37 per cent of the vote in the state and dogged Mr. Bush, who lost the election to Bill Clinton.

A RealClearPolitics polling average has support in the GOP for Mr. Trump at 81.5 per cent; Mr. Weld hasn’t stirred much interest – he scores 9 per cent. But as the primaries near, the numbers could shift, especially if a stronger candidate emerges.

While Joe Walsh has hard-right credentials, he is hobbled by background controversies that extend to his personal life. The experienced Mr. Sanford is a good communicator but is hardly the best to take on Mr. Trump on the character issue, having been caught up in a tawdry adultery scandal while governor.

Mr. Kasich, who finished second to Mr. Trump in the 2016 New Hampshire primary, is the best bet. Advisor John Weaver says he is "continually looking at this race and has seen an increase in people asking him to get in.”

Bill Kristol, the longtime conservative commentator and strategist, is trying to recruit more anti-Trump entrants and lists former Arizona senator Jeff Flake among the possibilities. Party rascal Anthony Scaramucci, Mr. Trump’s short-lived communications director, has said he is forming a political action group to “dismantle” Mr. Trump. He is financially well-connected and is reaching out to big-money anti-Trumpers. “I can grab a hold of 5, 6, 8 per cent of the people that know he’s nuts and possibly move them,” he said.

The White House scoffs at the prospective list of challengers. “None of them has even risen to the level of a nickname,” says spokesperson Kellyanne Conway.

She, of course, has a nickname herself – “Kellyanne Conjob.” She could be conning herself and Mr. Trump if she thinks a primaries’ challenge won’t hurt him.

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