Super Saturday was very kind to [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore], and furthered bolstered his case as the only serious choice to take down Donald Trump.
With dominating wins in Kansas and Maine in the bag and two close finishes in Kentucky and Louisiana, it appears Republican primary voters in all parts of the country think Cruz is worth a second look after he struggled following his Iowa win.
As should be expected with his surprise success, the Texas senator is now investing heavily in the Florida race and looks poised to compete in the Sunshine State. That move has angered some within the punditocracy who think Cruz could be jeopardizing the carefully-crafted plan to ensure a brokered convention.
According to the “Anybody but Trump” strategy supported by many within the conservative commentariat, Florida is supposed to go to [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] and, therefore, Cruz is only supposed to compete for states granted to him by the brokered convention strategy — which aren’t many states following his victories last week.
But, so goes the standard anti-Trump reasoning, the only way to prevent a nominee Trump is for there to be a coordinated strategy for the three candidates who are not graced by golden manes to only vie for wins in states they’re slated to secure. Thus, Cruz and John Kasich should give up on Florida, Rubio and Cruz on Ohio and Kasich and Rubio on Idaho.
However, there’s one huge problem with this proposal: the Texan has no interest in bringing about a brokered convention. “A brokered convention is the pipe-dream of the Washington establishment. It is their hope they can snatch this nomination from the people,” Cruz declared at CPAC over the weekend. (RELATED: Cruz: A Contested Convention Would Start A Revolt)
And he has a good reason for being suspicious of any back room deals at the convention. In the lead up to the Iowa caucus, the establishment signaled they would prefer Trump over Cruz. Luminous GOP insiders like Bob Dole and Trent Lott publicly said they’d vote for Trump if it came down to the businessman and the firebrand senator from Texas.
Granted, this talk was said before The Donald said George Bush lied to get America to invade Iraq and had his Ku Klux Klan gaffe. But the message was sent loud and clear to Cruz that Republican elites would pretty much have anyone else besides himself. The only way that Ted can become the nominee is if he reaches the 1237-delegate mark required to secure the Republican convention’s endorsement.
Even if pigs did fly and Cruz won out at a contested convention, it would undermine his pitch as the antagonist of the establishment when that same establishment awards him the nomination without the majority of delegates.
So there’s no reason for Cruz to not compete in Florida when his primary purpose is to be the next president of the United States. Any argument against the move is just silly from the perspective of a serious presidential candidate.
What does Cruz gain from handing the establishment that hates him the power to choose who’s the nominee rather than the voters? A possible Supreme Court nomination? Please, let’s get real here.
While all of the remaining non-Trump candidates probably do sincerely hope the real estate mogul doesn’t become the Republican nominee, that still doesn’t change the fact that each of one of them hopes to be the last candidate standing after the delegates are counted for the last time.
And it’s not like Cruz isn’t the only candidate campaigning in states not “designated” for them to win. Rubio campaigned heavily in Kansas and hosted events in Idaho — a state Cruz won and one he’s supposed to steal from Trump, respectively. Kasich and Rubio are currently engaged in a turf war over Illinois, a state that may seem more predisposed to voting for a fellow midwesterner like the governor of Ohio.
These facts prove why the whole “strategic voting for a brokered convention” theory is fairly dubious. It is true that Rubio and Kasich are both putting all their campaign hopes on a contested convention, but both candidates need to win a number of states to make a compelling case to secure the nomination. So, they’re naturally going to be competing in states that are not “assigned” to them by conservative pundits.
Like many things concerning this election cycle, commentators on the Right are confusing their fantasies with legitimate political analysis when it comes to a coordinated anti-Trump effort on the part of the candidates. For instance, there’s no way in hell Rubio’s poor showing on Super Saturday was a result of him intentionally sacrificing his campaign for the good of the country, as RedState’s Leon Wolf has claimed.
Neither Cruz, Rubio nor Kasich appear ready to ditch states they have a shot at winning for the sole purpose of taking away delegates from Trump. And with Cruz going into a contested convention with less of a chance of being the nominee than Mitt Romney, it’s no surprise he would go against the strategy for bringing that event about.
What may be more of a shock for the dreamers of a brokered convention is what happens when it comes about and Trump and Cruz are the ones who strike a deal, not the party leaders.