The GOP field just got smaller on Tuesday with the withdrawal from the race of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, with a trio that can be described as “The Good (John Kasich), the Bad (Donald J. Trump) and the Ugly (Ted Cruz).” It should have been the coronation of the “inevitable” GOP nominee, Donald J. Trump, on Tuesday night, but Ohio Governor John Kasich had other ideas in winning the “winner-take-all” primary in his home state. Despite Trump’s resounding wins in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina, it should have been his night. Trump also defeated Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in a close race in Missouri. Four victories on a so-called “Super Tuesday” should have been the night for Trump.
Kasich had different ideas, with 95 percent of the vote counted in Ohio, Kasich was leading Trump by nearly 11 points, about 47 percent to 36 percent. Cruz had 13 percent and Rubio 2, reported the Columbus Dispatch. The race is on to control the lion’s share of the 2,472 delegates participating in the July convention to be held in Cleveland, Ohio. The GOP party establishment is expected to rally behind the “good” candidate, John Kasich. The “Stop Trump” movement within the Republican Party is expected to oppose the “bad” candidate, Donald J. Trump. While there is little love for the “ugly” Ted Cruz, he could still serve as a viable alternative to Trump.
During Kasich’s victory speech, full of confetti and all, a jubilant crowd chanted “Ka-sich! Ka-sich! Ka-sich!” he proclaimed, “I want you to know something: We are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination.” Because of his devastating defeat in Florida, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio suspended his campaign after his loss in his home state of Florida to Trump. For his part, Kasich backers are counting on a flow of Rubio backers and donors — to join the hoped for “Kasich movement.”
Politico reports today that Trump and Cruz plan to “barricade” Kasich from the convention and will work to muscle the Ohio governor out of the race. That is because Kasich’s only path to the nomination are not the future primaries, but his path is at the GOP convention starting with the second ballot, presuming none of the candidates have enough for a majority. A campaign strategist and adviser to Cruz told Politico, “There is virtually zero chance he can even be nominated.” Anuzis added, “It’s a two-man race.”
Politico expects that “convention rules will get a thorough review and revision when delegates convene in Cleveland, raising the possibility that the threshold to participate could be lowered, making room for Kasich.” Trump and Cruz, of course, will have different ideas. “The Cruz folks would never allow the rules to be changed and of course we wouldn’t either,” said Barry Bennett, a Trump convention strategy. “The laws of math are not amendable.”
However, the Kasich campaign hired Stu Spencer and Charlie Black — two veterans of the last contested convention, the 1976 fight between President Gerald Ford and an insurgent Ronald Reagan — to his national strategy team, in anticipation of a brutal convention brawl. However, the party establishment will be supporting these efforts to change the rules to continue to try and stop Trump.
The question is will Trump and Cruz have enough delegates to support the rules change wanted by the Kasich camp.