Real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump clinched the Republican Party’s presidential nomination on Wednesday as his last remaining rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich, dropped out of the race, having concluded that there was no path to victory at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Kasich began his press conference by waxing nostalgic about his campaign, thanking his wife, his children, his campaign manager, advisers, and volunteers, as well as recollecting memories from the campaign trail.
“We were never, ever daunted,” Kasich said, hailing his staff’s efforts. “We just got up every day and did the best we can.”
He then proceeded to lavish praise on his constituents in Ohio before fondly recalling a few more memories from the campaign trail (in South Dakota, in New Hampshire, in New York, in Michigan) and criticizing the mass media for not understanding him or his reasons for running for President.
“As I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith that the Lord will show me the way forward,” he said before concluding his remarks and walking away.
Kasich’s exit leaves Donald Trump as the last candidate standing in what was originally a crowded, seventeen person field contending for the nomination. Now the anti-Trump forces within the Republican Party are without a candidate. They have failed in their mission. Their party is now Trump’s party.
Less than twenty-four hours ago, in the wake of the Indiana Republican primary, Ted Cruz also quit the race, leading Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus to tweet that Trump was “the presumptive nominee”.
The timing of Cruz and Kasich’s announcements could not have come at a worse time for the Washington State Republican Party. The end of the Republican presidential contest comes just as ballots are being mailed out for Washington State’s May 24th presidential primary. WSRP Chair Susan Hutchison and her surrogates had been looking forward for months to a competitive primary.
Now, there won’t be one. People can still cast their ballots, of course, but the national media spotlight isn’t going to be coming to Washington in advance of May 24th. Ted Cruz and John Kasich won’t be coming here to raise money, campaign, or rally supporters. Trump doesn’t need to show up in Washington or Oregon, either… he’s now the presumptive nominee and the last candidate left standing.
With the Republican nomination now pretty much a foregone conclusion, many of the voters the WSRP had been hoping would turn out to participate in the Republican primary may simply neglect to return their ballots.
On the Democratic side, there are still two candidates, but Washington Democrats opted last year to use caucuses to allocate all of their national convention delegates, so Washington’s 2016 presidential primary will wind up being a completely meaningless, eleven and a half million dollar straw poll.
To all of the conservative intellectuals and principled right wing activists who had joined forces to oppose Trump, this is a pretty awful moment. They had vowed never to allow their party to nominate Donald Trump, but they failed. The 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland is going to be a Trumpfest.
Republicans who oppose Trump are left with two unpalatable, distasteful choices: join the bandwagon, or withhold their support from their own party’s presumptive nominee. Some view Hillary Clinton is the lesser of two evils, and seem prepared to vote for her in the event of a Trump/Clinton matchup.
For Washington Republicans, Trump’s presence on the top of the ticket this autumn could be disastrous. Republicans, desperately hungry for power, hope to win majorities in both houses of the Legislature this year. All of their candidates will now have to run in the shadow of Donald Trump, who will increasingly define the Republican brand and what it means to be a Republican.
2016 may well be a Democratic wave election with significant downballot effects. It could also be something else… we can’t be sure what the future holds.
Research shows that pretty much everything Trump stands for is distasteful to a majority of Washingtonians. When it comes to presidential contests, Washington is firmly in the Democratic column. It hasn’t awarded its electoral votes to a Republican in over thirty years. George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney all lost Washington to their Democratic opponents. And in recent cycles, Democrats have cleaned up in statewide races.
The only Republican left in the executive department is Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and Democrats are seeking to replace her with Tina Podlodowski this autumn. Podlodowski’s candidacy has been extremely well received in the Democratic Party, and she’s getting early endorsements from all over. Republicans view Podlodowski as a huge threat and are trying to raise $1 million for Wyman to defend the last statewide office they hold on the Left Coast.