Texas US Senator Ted Cruz didn’t have a great night on Tuesday, failing to win a single contest.
However, Cruz did run competitive trailing Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump by .2% in Missouri and a little over 3% in North Carolina, collecting delegates in both plus Illinois.
Cruz had been severely handicapped by the presence on the ballot of his colleague from Florida, Marco Rubio- who garnered 6% in Missouri, 7% in North Carolina, and almost 9% in Illinois. Had Rubio departed the race before Tuesday, it’s very likely that Cruz would have won at least two of the three.
The good news for Cruz is that one of his primary vote siphons has ended his candidacy; the bad news is that another perceived anti-Trump candidate is still actively running for president: Ohio governor John Kasich.
Kasich ran third on Tuesday in every state except Florida, where he finished a distant fourth with 7% and in Ohio, which marked his first victory in over two dozen contests. In fact I don’t know if any non-favorite son presidential candidate had endured so many losses while remaining relevant enough to command media coverage.
Kasich only cracked double-digits in nine contests thus far and ran a competitive second in one, Vermont- the only state he had a shot of winning on Super Tuesday.
Even in Big 10 country, which Kasich declared to be more favorable to his candidacy than the SEC, he has fallen short, running third behind Trump and Cruz in Illinois and Michigan.
Before winning his home state of Ohio, Kasich had two accomplishments of significance: whining his way on to the stage of the leadoff Republican debate in Cleveland and coming in second in the First in the Nation New Hampshire primary. And not to belittle that latter achievement but Kasich could have doubled his vote in New Hampshire and still finished behind Trump.
Never has a candidate made more out of a distant second place showing in New Hampshire than John Kasich, which had somehow sustained him through twenty-something defeats.
About the only purpose Kasich had as a candidate was potentially forcing Trump to participate in future debates, as the billionaire could not afford to let his opponents to have two hours of television time to pick apart his presidential bid.
But Kasich is determined to not be even that helpful.
Amazingly Kasich has decided to provide Trump political cover for effectively ending future Republican presidential debates.
For a candidate who is starved for media attention and trailing badly in polls and delegates , you’d think Kasich would leap at the opportunity to utilize free media to make his case. But inexplicably, the candidate who once complained about being almost excluded from past debates doesn’t think much of them anymore.
But it gets worse/more pathetic.
This same man who brags about balancing the federal budget seems confused by the simple arithmetic involved with calculating delegates and a path to the nomination.
Kasich is up to one of two things: splitting the anti-Trump vote to facilitate pluralities for the billionaire or hoping that a deadlocked convention will somehow propel to the nomination a man who racked up 4% or less in seven states.
Neither intended action is commendable.
With Kasich collaborating with Trump to end the debates and draining away Cruz’s margin of victory in states where Trump cannot win a majority vote, Cruz needs to bring a partner to further marginalize Kasich out of even relative significance and to steal some of the thunder from the reigning King of Free Media.
Cruz needs Rubio.
Not for his endorsement, but to serve as his running mate.
And not in Cleveland in July but in Wisconsin in late March.
By tapping Rubio as his running mate now, Cruz would change the political landscape of the primary fight, immediately win over Rubio’s following of supporters who still like him but just lost confidence in his ability to win, and most importantly create a potent surrogate who can work different corners of the country.
Furthermore, a Cruz/Rubio ticket would mitigate the tremendous losses that a Trump/Anybody ticket would suffer in the Latino community and help soften Cruz’s image with general election voters.
Also the move would also appeal to loyal Rubio delegates at the Republican National Convention, whose support Cruz will need to secure the nomination.
It would be bold and historic and it needs to be done in order to stop Trump and save the Republican Party.
For Rubio, this could be his only chance of salvaging his political career, unless he’s hoping President Trump would make him HUD Secretary.
Rubio’s decision to stick with his candidacy through Florida was political suicide, losing his home state in a rout to Trump. And even if the ticket were unsuccessful , Rubio would be in a strong position to run in 2020.
Time is running out for Ted Cruz. Deprived of the one-on-one debate with Trump he had hoped for, Cruz has to put the ball in the air after the Arizona primary to shift the dynamics of the race.
Otherwise, Cruz will end up with the distinction of being “first runner up/loser” in Cleveland.