Well into the primary on March 22, 2016, Senator Ted Cruz was announced as the projected winner of the Utah Republican Caucuses. Cruz had 74 percent of the vote; Jon Kasich has 16, and front-runner Donald Trump had 14. Cruz’s margin of victory made the win even more important, because of the rules of the Utah Caucus. Any candidate who picks up more than 50% of the vote will sweep all of the state’s 40 delegates.
Cruz was given an additional boost today when Governor and former presidential candidate Jeb Bush officially endorsed him for president. On his Twitter page Bush’s endorsement read as follows:
“I am endorsing @TedCruz. Ted is a consistent, principled, conservative who has shown he can unite the party….”
The endorsement of Ted Cruz by Governor Jeb Bush is a sign that the Republican establishment has finally begun to coalesce around him as a candidate. Senator Marco Rubio, who was long considered to be the last hopes of the establishment, dropped out of the race after a humiliating defeat in his home state of Florida. The defeat was particularly embarrassing because of the winner take all stakes of the state, which would have allowed Rubio to stay in the primary race competitively.
Ted Cruz has also picked up, although somewhat reluctantly, the endorsement of Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham had said a plethora of disparaging things about Cruz but had stated in recent interviews that Ted Cruz is the only logical candidate to go against Trump.
His victory was somewhat diminished by Donald Trump’s victory in Ariz. Trump’s win was due in large part to his tough anti-immigration stance, which has become popular with conservative voters in the border state.
Trump was able to pick up 58 delegates from his Ariz. win. Trump’s sweep of Arizona means that he finishes Tuesday with an 18 delegate lead over Cruz. The Ariz. and Utah results point to the possibility of a contested convention.
Donald Trump sits at 740 delegates, Ted Cruz at 462, and Jon Kasich trails both of them with 144. The so-called “magic number” of delegates that would be needed to clinch the nomination is 1237.
The last time there was a Republican contested convention was in 1976. At the time, President Gerald Ford was running against then Governor Ronald Reagan. This scenario is often cited by pro-establishment Republicans about the legitimacy of a contested convention. An interesting aside is that a young and impressionable Jon Kasich was at the convention, and worked for the Reagan Campaign.
Ted Cruz has repeatedly stated that Donald Trump and himself are the only ones left who can mathematically secure the nomination with the remaining states up for delegates before the convention. He also said that he does not want a contested convention, and believed that if one did happen a “revolt” could occur similar to Donald Trump’s musing that there could be riots in a contested convention scenario.
The Cruz campaign is confident that their Utah win will propel them to success for the next round of primaries which take place in Wisconsin, and New York.
Opinion by Casey Lowrey
Edited by Cathy Milne
CBS News: Live Updates Republican Voters in Arizona and Utah cast their votes
VICE News: Ted Cruz Scores Major Win Over Donald Trump in Utah Caucuses
Aljazeera: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz split wins in Arizona and Utah
CBS News: Donald Trump wins Arizona primary, Ted Cruz wins Utah, CBS News projects
Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License