By Jacob Laskaris
After winning so many state primaries and having the lead in delegates, Republican presidential candidate Donald J Trump seems like the likely favorite to win the GOP nomination, right?
Not so fast.
It appears that although he has a respectable lead in delegates, the nomination for the Republican Party is all but guaranteed. In the weeks leading into the Wisconsin Republican primary, Trump believed that if he won Wisconsin, the race would be over and he would slide right into the convention as the nominee. Unfortunately for him, Texas Senator and fellow Republican rival, Ted Cruz won the state’s primary with a thirteen point landslide, which slowed down Trump’s momentum and now guarantees a contested convention.
What is a contested convention you ask? Here’s a brief overview:
If no candidate has the magic number of 1,237 delegates by the time of the convention, then the delegates will vote for a nominee on the floor of the convention. On the first ballot, the delegates will vote for the candidate that they backed during the primaries. After that, the delegates are unbound which means that they can then vote for whoever they feel like.
I asked fellow senior Devin Cook about whether he thinks Republicans are headed towards a contested convention and if he’d prefer it to be contested or if he would rather have a clear winner before hand. He said,
“We should have a clear winner because I believe in “majority vote”. If Trump is one delegate away from the 1,237 delegates needed, he deserves the nomination.”
There is the majority vote rule for the Republican National Convention. 1237 is that majority. Trump is still not guaranteed the nomination outright, and candidates like Ted Cruz will see to that. Cruz is another candidate running for the presidency and like Trump, wants those 1,237 delegates. He believes that his victory in Wisconsin will force the Republicans into the convention with no clear winner and it seems like he could very well win the nomination on the second or third ballot. Devin gave me his opinion on a potential Cruz victory at the convention. “The establishment will not pick someone like Trump.” he said, “Candidates like Ted Cruz have a better chance of being nominated because they are funded by the establishment while Trump is using his own money to fund his campaign, and the establishment hates that.”
While Cruz does campaign as an outsider, he has gotten establishment endorsements such as Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. “There are only campaigns that have any plausible path to the nomination, mine and Donald Trump’s.” Cruz has said many times at campaign stops. Cruz is reported to have been going to multiple states and abide by the delegate rules that each of those states set up. His racking up delegates will give him a boost on the second ballot and he could be the 2016 Republican Presidential nominee. Trump knows this, and is very angry about it.
There have been talks among Republican and Democrat voters that should no Republican candidate get the magic number of delegates by July (the month of the convention) then the Republican party would pick someone who didn’t even run in the primaries. Many names have been tossed around lately, like Paul Ryan (who said that he will not accept the nomination) General James Mattis and even former C.I.A director, David Petraeus. In my interview with Cook, I asked him who might the establishment want for the nominee and he said this, “Most likely, the establishment would pick General Mattis or David Petraeus because they could be influenced by the establishment all the while being seen as a great next commander in chief.” Cook was referring to the “Eisenhower System”. That means that a moderate conservative Republican who is likable to ALL American voters is nominated, and is guaranteed to win the election. Mattis and Eisenhower are both generals, which would appeal to conservative and moderate and even liberal voters in the election. Neither Trump or Cruz would be the nominee, but their supporters could very likely vote for General Mattis if it came down to him vs Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
Donald Trump has been noted for threatening to run third party if he didn’t get the GOP nomination. This has concerned many Americans, with the obvious reason that if he ran Independent, he’d split the Republican vote and guarantee a Democrat win in November. Cook did not seem phased by that concept, but rather seems to enjoy the idea of an Independent Trump run. “No matter what he does, people will question his seriousness as a presidential candidate. Regardless, he has every right to run third party, no matter what.” Cook said.
Of the three remaining Republicans running, only one candidate has no viable path to the nomination, and that candidate is Ohio Governor John Kasich. In my interview with Cook, I told him that for Kasich to win the nomination, he’d need over 110% of the remaining delegates. Cook laughed it off, saying “Kasich is delusional. There’s no way in Hell that he’d win. It is statistically impossible and according to Republican National Committee rules, politically impossible!”
There is an 8 state rule in regards to the nomination, in which all Republicans but Kasich have achieved. As of today, he has only won one state, his home state of Ohio. Calls for him to drop out of the race have increased day by day, but Kasich thinks he has some sort of momentum, and that momentum is called “he can’t win.”
Only Trump or Cruz can win the nomination, and all signs point to a Cruz nomination in a contested convention. Trump has a lead in delegates, but he is being outsmarted by Cruz based on delegate rules. This’ll be an interesting election, so vote wisely, and don’t screw up history in the making.