New Mexico’s June 7 Republican presidential primary may not matter after all.
A little more than a week ago, Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced a deal aimed at stopping Donald Trump from securing the nomination. Kasich agreed to not campaign in Indiana — which we now know Cruz viewed as his do-or-die state — and Cruz said he would not campaign in upcoming primaries Oregon and New Mexico.
That set up a potential Trump-Kasich battle for New Mexico that had some thinking the state might see GOP primary action — even though it quickly became clear the deal might not mean much.
Then Cruz lost Indiana badly on Tuesday and dropped out of the race. GOP leaders and many in the media declared Trump the party’s presumptive nominee even as Kasich vowed to continue fighting.
Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, said the GOP “is facing a clear choice between positive solutions that can win in November and a darker path that will solve nothing and lead to Hillary Clinton in the White House, a Democrat Senate and a liberal Supreme Court.”
Asked how competitive Kasich could be with Trump in New Mexico and other remaining primary states, a campaign spokesman referred NMPolitics.net to Weaver’s statement: “As long as it remains possible, Governor Kasich will fight for the higher path.”
“Ted Cruz ran a strong campaign, stood for conservative principles and exposed a lot about Donald Trump,” Weaver said. “Governor Kasich will continue to campaign and offer the voters a clear choice for our country.”
Meanwhile, with Trump nearing the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination before the party’s July convention, other Republicans declared the race over. Trump has won about 10 times the number of delegates Kasich has secured.
This tweet came from Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, moments after Cruz dropped out:
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) May 4, 2016
And the Republican Party of New Mexico sent out its own Trump-supporting statement.
“With Donald Trump’s win in Indiana and Ted Cruz dropping out, Trump has functionally secured the nomination,” said spokesman Tucker Keene. “We look forward to seeing Donald Trump in New Mexico and working with our nominee to defeat Hillary Clinton in November and delivering our five electoral votes for the Republicans.”
Weaver tweeted a response to Priebus:
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) May 4, 2016
That made California, whose Republicans, like New Mexico’s, vote on June 7, one of two states Kasich’s campaign has been talking about lately. The other is Oregon. Even the campaign’s email to NMPolitics.net didn’t mention any specific plans for New Mexico or indicate that the campaign views the state as important.
Regardless, Kasich’s only hope between now and June 7 is to stop Trump from reaching 1,237 delegates. It’s a strategy many Republicans and media analysts think is hopeless.
Tuesday’s win in Indiana “certified Trump’s inevitability, positioning him to easily accumulate the 1,237 delegates required to secure the nomination next month and avert a contested convention,” the Washington Post wrote. Kasich may stay in the race, “but his odds of winning New Mexico – or even forcing a convention fight – are infinitesimal,” the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Several GOP presidential candidates — including Trump, Cruz, and Kasich — will still appear on New Mexico’s primary ballot. Cruz and several others quite the race after the deadline to drop off the ballot in New Mexico.
Meanwhile, Democrat Bernie Sanders defeated opponent Hillary Clinton in Indiana on Tuesday, keeping Clinton from declaring final victory in a race he has vowed to stay in until the Democrats’ convention. Clinton announced last week that she was hiring three campaign staffers in New Mexico. Sanders’ Tuesday win makes it more likely there will still be a primary race when Democrats vote here on June 7.
As the Washington Post reported Monday, Sanders may be able to force a contested Democratic Party convention, but that doesn’t mean he can win it. Most analysts see the Democratic contest as over because of the number of so-called superdelegates who support Clinton.
New Mexico’s former governor, Gary Johnson, who is still battling for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president, said there will be three candidates on the ballot in all 50 states in November — Trump and Clinton, who he called “two of the most polarizing candidates in recent history,” and the Libertarian nominee.
“I hope to be that nominee,” Johnson said. “With millions of Americans now feeling politically ‘homeless,’ a two-term governor who balanced budgets, cut taxes, cut regulations and truly reduced the size of government may offer the home they are seeking.”