Joy Gruben of Las Cruces is planning to vote for Ted Cruz in New Mexico’s Republican presidential primary in spite of a deal Cruz has with opponent John Kasich to not compete here.
The agreement Cruz and Kasich announced Sunday, aimed at stopping Donald Trump from securing the GOP nomination before the party’s convention in July, had Kasich agreeing to leave the May 3 Indiana primary to Cruz. In exchange, Cruz agreed to not compete in Oregon, whose primary is May 17, and New Mexico, whose primary is June 7.
Gruben’s determination to vote for Cruz anyway captured the fragility of the situation as Trump’s opponents make a last-ditch effort to try to stop him before the convention — but have formed a shaky alliance many say will have little effect.
Neither Cruz nor Kasich can win enough delegates to secure the nomination before the GOP convention in Cleveland, so their only hope is a contested convention.
“I’m not sure it’s really going to make much difference – and I’m not even sure why Kasich is still in the race,” Gruben said in a discussion on Facebook. Kasich is a far distant third in the race.
Trump is expected to win several state primaries in the Northeast on Tuesday. He still has a chance to reach 1,237 delegates and secure the GOP nomination before the convention, so Cruz and Kasich see defeating Trump in Indiana as essential. Cruz had a better shot, which is why Kasich agreed to not campaign, at least publicly, in Indiana in exchange for Cruz not publicly campaigning for a roughly equal number of delegates in Oregon and New Mexico.
Whether voters in New Mexico and the other two states would follow the lead of Cruz and Kasich wasn’t the only question raised Monday. Some said the deal gave credibility to Trump’s claim that the system is rigged and could backfire.
And there were questions about how committed the two candidates are to the alliance, which by midday Monday was “fraying almost to the point of irrelevance,” in the words of The New York Times. Hours after announcing the deal, Kasich said people in Indiana “ought to vote for me” even if he doesn’t publicly campaign there. “I don’t see this as any big deal,” he said.
And the Cruz campaign said it wasn’t telling Republicans in New Mexico and Oregon to vote for Kasich. “We never tell voters who to vote for,” the campaign clarified. “We’re simply letting folks know where we will be focusing our time and resources.”
In New Mexico, the state Republican Party said it wanted Cruz to campaign here along with Kasich and Trump.
“We believe that every campaign should fight to win in New Mexico,” said GOP spokesman Tucker Keene, “because whoever our nominee is, the experience of campaigning in and organizing in a swing state like New Mexico would help defeat Hillary Clinton here in November.”
In New Mexico, GOP delegates are awarded proportionately — it’s not a winner-take-all state — so the deal probably wouldn’t help Kasich much here anyway.
In other words, while the alliance between Cruz and Kasich brings attention to New Mexico — our article on the deal had 5,800 reads from around the country on Monday — it may not matter much beyond that.