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Presidential Horse Race 2016: John Boehner offers kiss of death to John Kasich

With most of the attention in the 2016 Republican presidential race concentrated on tomorrow’s “big” primaries in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri, we begin the week with news from two jurisdictions that voted over the weekend.

First off, Ted Cruz won nine delegates in Wyoming. Eliza Collins of Politico reports, “Ted Cruz won a John Kasichcomfortable majority of the vote in Wyoming Republicans' county conventions Saturday, banking 9 new delegates in the process.

“At conventions held in counties throughout the state, delegates promising to vote for Cruz received 66 percent of the vote statewide. Marco Rubio came in second with 20 percent of the vote.”

Rubio ended up with one delegate and Donald Trump one as well, with the race’s overall frontrunner coming in third in the state with seven percent of the total support.

Coupled together with Cruz’s sizable win in Idaho last week, the victory in Wyoming reveals the Texas senator has strong support in the Rocky Mountain west.

Meanwhile, Rubio notched his third “win” on Saturday, narrowly prevailing over John Kasich to take ten delegates in the District of Columbia (Kasich won nine) primary. The establishment dominated Washington DC area Republicans always choose the favorite of the elites and this year was no exception.

Evelyn Rupert of The Hill reports, “He [Rubio] beat out John Kasich by just 50 votes, according to The New York Times, ultimately winning 37 percent.

“Kasich followed with 35 percent. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz trailed with 14 and 12 percent of the vote, respectively.”

Cruz should take it as a badge of honor that he came in last in the federal capital. With both Cruz and Trump being shutout of delegates in DC, it’s clear the “outsiders” aren’t welcome in the heart of establishment land.

It also left Donald Trump with just one delegate won on Saturday in two separate elections. I doubt you’ll hear him tout those results in his next press conference.

Heading into tomorrow, the overall delegate count now shows Trump with a 90 delegate lead, 460 total to 370 for Cruz and 163 for Rubio.

Tomorrow’s tallies will certainly shake up the race. If Trump does as well as expected, he’ll have a large lead, leaving Rubio and Kasich with little choice but to leave the race and provide Republican voters with a one-on-one contest between The Donald and Cruz.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen agrees it’s down to a Trump or Cruz race, “The frontrunner is expected to have a good day on Tuesday, but even that won’t wrap up the nomination. If, as many expect, Trump picks up 99 delegates from Florida’s winner-take-all primary, he would still need to win 47 percent of all the remaining delegates to be selected in the coming months to ensure a victory over Cruz. That makes what happens in the other races on Tuesday particularly important…

“Trump and Cruz will face each other in roughly two dozen primaries and caucuses between March 15 and June 7. That competition will select the Republican nominee.”

The media will no doubt be painting a “Trump is inevitable” picture starting tomorrow night. But it’s important not to lose perspective on the overall race. The Donald will have prevailed handily in the first phase of the campaign, but there’s about half of the states left to go, even after tomorrow.

With a number of prominent conservatives rallying to Cruz at this point, there’s a reasonable chance he could come out on top of a straight-up one-on-one pairing with Trump.

Don’t let the talking heads fool you -- it ain’t over, folks.

While the media obsesses on Florida and Ohio, Cruz concentrates on Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois

Florida and Ohio and March 15. March 15 and Ohio and Florida. Ohio and March 15 and Florida.

No matter how you order it, this has been the media narrative for months. With as much as we’ve heard about these three things, you’d almost expect the entire presidential race hinges on what happens there tomorrow.

There are many problems with the media’s fixated analysis, however. Perhaps foremost is the fact three other good-sized states are holding primaries on March 15, none of which are the home states of establishment favorites Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

Since Ted Cruz has no realistic expectation to win in either Florida or Ohio, the Texas senator’s turned his attention to the states where he’d have more of an even playing field – Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois, all of which award the spoils proportionally, opening up the opportunity for someone other than Trump to pick off a good share of their delegates.

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times writes, “With Mr. Trump leading polls in Florida, Gov. John Kasich battling Mr. Trump for supremacy in Ohio and his own team increasingly convinced that the race will become a grinding delegate battle across all 50 states, Mr. Cruz has decided to seek votes in places that offer the best chance to deliver him delegates on Tuesday.

“In addition to his appearances on the stump, Mr. Cruz’s campaign is aiming its television and online advertising, and its volunteer door knockers and phone bankers, at potentially overlooked areas, hoping to amass enough delegates to deny Mr. Trump an insurmountable advantage in the race.”

Trump may have the big rallies and adoring media in his corner but Cruz has brainpower, tech savvy and motivated volunteers on his side. The Donald could possibly take Ohio and Florida’s 165 total delegates. But Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina combined offer 193 delegates.

As Martin points out, Illinois and Missouri award some delegates according to the winners of congressional districts. The overall winners of these states get a big chunk, obviously, but there are opportunities for Cruz to pick up a good-sized haul of delegates even if he doesn’t end up with more statewide votes than Trump in these states.

That’s not to say Cruz won’t compete for outright wins in Missouri and North Carolina – he certainly will, if recent trends are any indication.

And no one’s claiming Florida and Ohio aren’t important tomorrow. Trump looks almost certain to win in Florida. Polls show a tight race between Trump and John Kasich in Ohio. Should Kasich end up with a victory there and Cruz does well in the other states, we could very well see the Marco Rubio-less race continue on through California in June.

So before everyone declares Trump as “inevitable” tomorrow night, let’s wait and see what the delegate totals are on Wednesday morning. I’m predicting Ted Cruz will still be very much alive in the race, one way or another.

Ahead of the Ohio primary, John Kasich receives kiss of approval (or death) from the symbol of the Washington establishment

Last week John Kasich received an endorsement from former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The news didn’t generate much interest from the national media and Kasich would likely gain nothing positive from such a dubious announcement.

Kasich received another notorious backer over the weekend, however, one that could potentially turn conservatives and Republicans away from the Ohio governor.

Keith BieryGolick of Cincinnati.com reports, "One day before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is scheduled to speak in West Chester, Boehner endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president.

“In fact, the former speaker told a crowded ballroom in the same township he already voted for Kasich. ‘He's my friend,’ said Boehner.”

The article notes how a majority of the candidates competing to take Boehner’s vacant House seat said they wouldn’t vote for the retired Speaker again. Meanwhile, several conservative groups are apparently involved in trying to rally conservatives in the primary in an attempt to ensure the seat is filled by someone a lot more willing to stand up for principles.

It’s only natural someone like John Boehner would favor Kasich in the Republican race – they served together in Congress for years and are likely pretty close.

But you also get the sense there’s really not much separating the two in terms of personal philosophies and governing ideology. If Kasich somehow were elected president, it would therefore be the equivalent of having John Boehner in the White House.

As if seven years of surrendering to Barack Obama and the Democrats wasn’t bad enough – it would kill the GOP for sure.

Kasich may be a good man and fairly credible on fiscal matters, but he’s not the type of leader who’s going to bring the country back from the brink. We need someone with a lot more fight, not a guy who stresses how much he intends to get along with the opposition.

The country and party were indelibly damaged when John Boehner was Speaker. It can’t afford having someone like John Kasich occupy the White House now.

Cruz lands coveted National Review endorsement

Finally today, John Kasich may be suffering under the endorsement of John Boehner, but Ted Cruz picked up the backing of a group of conservatives much more influential and valuable.

The Editors of National Review write, “Conservatives have had difficulty choosing a champion in the presidential race in part because it has featured so many candidates with very good claims on our support. As their number has dwindled, the right choice has become clear: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas…

“What matters now is that Cruz is a talented and committed conservative. He is also Republicans’ best chance for keeping their presidential nomination from going to someone with low character and worse principles. We support Ted Cruz for president.”

Of course National Review was one of the original entities to go against Trump full-throttle, so you had to figure they’d be down to Cruz and maybe Rubio. As it’s become increasingly clear that Rubio’s out of it whether or not he wins in Florida, it doesn’t make sense to stay on the sidelines any longer.

National Review will end up being an important ally for Cruz over the next three months, supplying intellectual brainpower and well researched stories to aid in the effort to overtake Trump.

I’m sure Ted loves to have them.

(Note: Here is an excellent treatment by Andrew C. McCarty of National Review on how Ted Cruz is the candidate who will force the Republican establishment to keep their promises.

In part, McCarthy says, “I don’t oppose Trump because I want to protect the Washington cartel. I oppose him because he is the Washington cartel. You think Republicans have broken your hearts. Wait till you get a load of what this guy would do.”)

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Coveted????? NR endorsement

Sorry...after what has been said and done recently by those at NR, the last word I would use to describe their endorsement is 'coveted'