If Trump and Cruz Flame Out, Who’s Next on the Delegates’ List?
Policy + Politics

If Trump and Cruz Flame Out, Who’s Next on the Delegates’ List?

REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Make no mistake -- Donald Trump is headed for a landslide victory in Tuesday’s New York Republican primary.

A RealClearPolitics average of polls in the Empire State gives the billionaire a nearly 32-point lead over his nearest rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich. A win by the former reality TV star would add more GOP delegates to the 743 he’s already earned, and get him closer to the 1,237 threshold to become the Republican standard-bearer.

Related: Trump or Cruz? Why It Doesn’t Matter Anymore for the GOP

Yet if Trump is even one delegate shy of that mark heading into the GOP national convention bet on Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) to ramp up his push for a contested convention.

That would likely result in an all-out push by party insiders to draft a third option, possibly from the ranks of the vanquished White House hopefuls, or a so-called “white knight” — someone currently not running who would play the role of savior at a deadlocked convention.

If Trump fails to hit the magic number, or Cruz isn’t able to muster enough support on the convention floor, the GOP might suggest one of these now familiar names:

John Kasich. The whole reason the Ohio Governor is still in the race, despite winning only his home state is that he believes the convention will ultimately nominate him because polls show he’s the only remaining contender who consistently beats Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical general election match-up.

Related: Why Wall Street Is Giving Ted Cruz the Cold Shoulder

He’d better start get to winning some more Republican primaries if he wants to be taken seriously during the convention in Cleveland.

Sen. Marco Rubio (FL). Last month the Florida lawmaker, who passed on running for re-election to the Senate in order to seek the White House, took the unprecedented step of asking state parties to allow him to hold onto the 172 delegates he won while campaigning this year.

The move was a clear signal that Rubio hopes to arrive at the convention with a base of support to build from so that the convention will give him a second shot at reaching the Oval Office.

Related: Here’s Why Trump Is Claiming He Was Cheated in Colorado

Scott Walker. One of the most hyped candidates of the 2016 presidential election, the Wisconsin governor was the first one to drop out after spending a ludicrous amount of money on campaign staff, even putting members of his family on the payroll.

Walker made a bit of comeback last month when he endorsed Cruz in the Badger State primary, helping the Texas lawmaker to a double-digit win over Trump. Walker enjoyed the support of the influential Koch brothers, who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to boost GOP causes and candidates in recent years. Could their influence be enough to put Walker’s name back in contention?

Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor laid out a fiery critique of Trump and his controversial stances last month and has kept up the attacks since.

While the 2012 Republican presidential nominee’s speech didn’t take out Trump the way he’d hoped, it did break President Reagan’s famous eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

The address also helped transition Romney, who sought the nomination in 2008 as well, into the role of a party elder – an elder statesman who could offer himself up to help his party avoid potential electoral disaster.

Paul Ryan. True, the House Speaker last week gave a Sherman-esque statement, refusing to seek or accept the GOP nomination, telling his fellow Republicans: “Count me out.”

That is a firm position to take in April. All bets could be off come late July when the convention finally convenes. Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, accepted the speaker’s gavel begrudgingly, after intense lobbying efforts from his colleagues.

Imagine a deadlocked convention, taking several rounds of balloting, the dysfunction embarrassing the party and compounding the idea that Republicans are headed for a blowout on Election Day. Despite his outright refusal, Ryan could still get a look from leaders desperate for a win in November.