Early this morning, Donald Trump officially became the first Republican presidential candidate to secure enough primary wins to become eligible for the Republican presidential nomination. According to Rule 40 of the Republican National Convention, a candidate must win eight primary contests to become eligible for the presidential nomination, and Donald Trump became the first candidate to do just that last night. The Northern Marianas held their primary last night, and the islands (a U.S. Territory) voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, awarding him another nine delegates – and potentially the Republican presidential nomination.
“After hearing nothing from any of the other candidates running for president, I made a decision to support the candidate who genuinely put forward a plan to help all the territories and commonwealths and recognizes that we are all Americans,” said Gov. Ralph Torres of the Northern Mariana Islands, when asked about his support for Donald Trump.
The Washington Post speculates that Trump may have just won the nomination last night, suggesting that the others, Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich, might not be able to qualify for the nomination if they’re not able to net eight primary wins each. Donald Trump has dominated headlines, and the Republican primary race, in recent months and this latest – procedural – win puts him in the lead to net the Republican nomination.
Trump wins 9 delegates in Northern Mariana Islands https://t.co/JaziYskYGM— Big T Trumpet (@SmallgGay) March 15, 2016
There aren’t many states left in the Republican presidential primary cycle, and if Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich want to beat Trump and qualify for the Republican nomination, they’re going to need to win a number of states each. Ted Cruz needs to win four more states, Rubio needs to win six, and John Kasich needs to win a whopping eight more states in order to – not win – but just qualify for the Republican presidential nomination, regardless of the number of delegates they each win.
Now, of course, the race is far from over, but Trump’s campaign is already laying the groundwork they need for the two eventualities they see ahead: Trump secures the nomination and runs against Sanders or Clinton in the general election, or Trump’s opponents – namely Cruz or Rubio – are able to force a contested convention, which would put the Republican nomination up for grabs.
Barry Bennett, a Trump campaign strategist speaking to CNN today, said that the Trump campaign is already planning for a brokered convention – even if they say it is unlikely, they want to be ready for anything.
According to some commentators Trump would have a lot to lose if the Republican primary ended in a contested convention, as it would put almost all the power to select a nominee in the hands of the Republican establishment and party power brokers. The Chicago Tribune in particular cautions the Republican party to be wary of a contested convention – it might stop Trump but it might be bad news for the party as a whole.
Governor Mitt Romney has publicly stated that a contested convention might be the best way to stop the Donald Trump campaign, and deprive Trump of the nomination, but many Republican voters might see it as further evidence that the Republican party isn’t concerned with the issues its voters care about.
“Any open convention that shuns Trump could be a nightmare with no clear alternative. If a protracted struggle requires looking outside the contestants for a nominee, the odds-on favorite would be House Speaker Paul Ryan which would create its own frictions,” wrote Albert R. Hunt for the Chicago Tribune.
That’s part of the problem with a brokered convention — it would open up the floor to anyone in the Republican party, and would certainly favor party elites like Ryan, and outsiders like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz would face a tough fight.
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