Just when you though the GOP race for the 2016 presidential nomination could not get any more bizarre it does. In an attempt to stop front runner Donald Trump, his chief rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have formed an alliance.
Sunday night the two Republican candidates confirmed that they are being strategic about upcoming races and organizing their efforts to try to avoid competing against one another in certain states, focusing on putting their strongest foot forward against Donald Trump instead.
Trump has been on the stump and blasting the alliance between Cruz and Kasich as two very desperate members of the establishment. It is possible the Cruz – Kasich duo, could backfire and cause Trump backers could be more inspired to get out to vote for their guy.
Kasich’s campaign manager confirmed that they’re going to target New Mexico, which holds its primary on June 7, while Cruz needs to win in Indiana, which has its primary next Tuesday. If Trump sweeps the five primaries as it looks like that will happen and then wins in Indiana next week, he would be poised 1,237 delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot.
The Cruz-Kasich is unique, especially given the public nature of their partnership. But whether it will work is an open question.
Kasich’s team was the first of the duo to confirm their plan, with chief strategist John Weaver explaining the goal in a Sunday news release.
“Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee,” Weaver said in the statement.
He went on to detail how the winner-take-all nature of Indiana affected their decision to “give the Cruz campaign a clear path” in that state.
“In turn, we will focus our time and resources in New Mexico and Oregon, both areas that are structurally similar to the Northeast politically, where Gov. Kasich is performing well,” Weaver said.
While the plan could keep Kasich from winning any delegates directly in the Indiana primary, he could be looking for a win from Hoosiers further down the line.
The state’s Republican Party has already selected the 57 people who will go to the national convention as delegates, and no matter the outcome of the May 3 vote, those are the 57 people going to the convention.
They will only be bound for the first ballot, which could be a source of hope for Kasich.
When those names were revealed this weekend, the Kasich campaign was happily boasting about how many among them were supporters who would fall in line for him on any nomination ballots beyond the first.
If the announced plan with Cruz works and the convention is contested, Kasich can hope that he was right and that many, if not most, of the Indiana delegates would support him on later ballots.
So, the Cruz-Kasich partnership is just another twist in a very long and interesting road to the presidency.