Kasich Makes It Official: Trump Is the GOP’s Last Man Standing
Policy + Politics

Kasich Makes It Official: Trump Is the GOP’s Last Man Standing

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Ohio Gov. John Kasich finally got the memo. Following Donald Trump’s resounding victory in Indiana on Tuesday, NBC and other news outlets are reporting that Kasich will suspend his campaign in a statement in Columbus, Ohio, at 5p.m.

Related: The GOP Establishment Wakes Up to Its Nightmare

The decision is to drop out is stunning only in that it’s such a reversal from Tuesday night, when the Kasich campaign sent out a memo promising to see the race through. Kasich was the last remaining contender against Trump after Sen. Ted Cruz suspended his campaign Tuesday night following his drubbing in the Hoosier State.

“Tonight’s results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans,” Kasich chief strategist John Weaver had said in the memo. “Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.”

Related: Trump Wins Big in Indiana, Sends Cruz Packing

The Kasich campaign on Wednesday morning had released a slick new web video that celebrates Star Wars Day by casting the governor as the Republican Party’s “only hope” of beating Hillary Clinton next fall.

The reality, though, was that with Trump well on the way to securing the nomination, Kasich was nothing more than marginal figure at best. Compared to Cruz, who rattled off 11 primary wins during his White House run, Kasich only won Ohio, his home state, and had long been mathematically eliminated from winning the delegates required to secure the GOP nomination.

Kasich’s decades of government service, combined with his middle-of-the-road approach to governing, failed to catch fire in a primary season where voters are looking for an “outsider” to shake up the political status quo.

Related: Bernie Sanders’ Fading Candidacy Gets a Boost from Indiana Win

The outlook wasn’t likely to brighten for Kasich, who struck a deal with Cruz not to campaign in Indiana in an effort to stop Trump from winning the state. That scheme backfired and kept the governor off the media radar for several days, depriving him of exposure he could have used in order to become the new face of the “Never Trump” movement.

There was also little time for him to halt the Trump steamroller. A RealClearPolitics average of polls showed the former reality TV star with a 40-point lead in next week’s West Virginia primary. In Oregon, where Kasich was supposed to devote his energies as part of the pact with Cruz, Trump is up almost 30 points.