It’s been asked countless times: Will this be the year California finally “matters” in the race for the Republican nomination for President?
We now have an answer: Yes.
Put another way: California, here we come.
Last night’s contests reshaped the landscape in three ways.
First, Florida Senator Macro Rubio withdrew after losing his home state, bringing the number of contenders down to three. Second, Ohio Governor John Kasich was mathematically eliminated – he would have to win 112% of the remaining delegates to become the nominee, an impossibility. And finally, the race was functionally reduced to a two-man contest between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
While at the moment Donald Trump has about 200 more delegates than Ted Cruz, he is well short of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination. In fact, he only has about half the delegates he needs, at around 640. Ted Cruz has a little over 400.
California’s 169 delegates – the largest state delegation in the nation – are now essential for victory.
Appearing on CNN this morning, I was actually encouraged by the spin the Trump supporter was putting out, claiming that Trump would do better in “blue” states because, presumably, blue state Republicans would be more favorable to Donald Trump than Ted Cruz.
I can only hope the Trump campaign continues working off of that deeply flawed logic.
California Republicans are conservatives. I know this first hand having served as Chairman of the California Republican Party for four years, and winning the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor in 2014.
But much more importantly, I haven’t spoken to a single moderate Republican who actually prefers Donald Trump over Ted Cruz. Just the opposite is the case. The truth is that moderate and conservative Republicans alike can agree that our party, and our country, don’t need the general election wipeout that a Trump nomination would bring. In one on one contests, Cruz defeats Trump, and Cruz defeats Hillary.
That’s why I was so encouraged by the flood of emails I received last night as the results came in – one Marco Rubio supporter after another coming on board the Cruz Crew. Many are volunteering to serve as Cruz delegates to the Republican National Convention. (Apply here to be a Cruz delegate to the national convention).
It’s not surprising. Everyone knows Donald Trump, everyone has an opinion about him, and the majority of Republicans do not want to see him as the nominee. That’s why in the ABC News/Washington Post poll and the NBC/WSJ polls when voters are asked to choose between Trump and Cruz in a two-person matchup, Cruz wins. Hands down.
Trump does best in states where he can rely on Democrats to vote in Republican primaries. Trump has only won 6 out of 16 closed primaries held so far. California’s Republican primary is also “closed” – only registered Republican voters can choose the Republican nominee. In fact, of the 22 remaining contests, 14 are closed primaries, 4 allow independents to vote in the Republican primary, and only 4 are what we call “Trump primaries” where Democrats can vote and choose the Republican nominee.
Now is the time for the Republican Party and the conservative movement to unite. Every single supporter of Marco Rubio, John Kasich, or any other past candidate for president are welcome on the Cruz campaign.
Every political campaign takes on a unique culture, and it’s one defined by the candidate. I experienced this first hand with one California campaign after another – each takes on a different culture. What has struck me the most about the Cruz campaign is that everyone really is welcome. It’s a great environment, it’s a great team that’s formed around a great candidate.
Future generations will be able to look to a Ted Cruz in the same way that my generation looked to Ronald Reagan – a leader to expand individual liberty, reignite the American economy, and restore America’s role in the world. Californians now have the opportunity, and the power, to make that happen.
Ron Nehring is the California Chairman and National Spokesman of the Ted Cruz for President campaign. He previously served as the 2014 Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of California, Chairman of the California Republican Party from 2007 to 2011, and Chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County from 2001 to 2007.