Acore of Republican consultants who have been fighting Donald Trump’s march to the GOP nomination are now bracing for a contested convention after Trump victories in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois on Tuesday.
Many in the industry remain shellshocked by the continued success of the New York businessman, who has remained strong with GOP primary voters even as clashes between Trump supporters and protestors marked several of his campaign rallies over the past week. A late anti-Trump ad blitz also failed to blunt enough of his momentum ahead of Tuesday’s primaries.
Anti-Trump Republicans had circled March 15 on their calendars in the hope that either Marco Rubio or John Kasich could top Trump in one of the winner-take-all delegate contests in Florida or Ohio. Trump notched a commanding win in Florida on Tuesday, forcing Rubio from the race, but Kasich did manage victory in his home state, ensuring the race will move forward. Missouri’s contest remains in a near deadlock between Trump and Ted Cruz and was yet to be called as of early Wednesday morning.
“We are headed to a contested convention,” Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini tweeted once Ohio was called for Kasich.
GOP strategist Katie Packer, who’s heading Our Principles PAC, an anti-Trump group, pointed to the governor’s victory as a blow to Trump’s claim on the nomination. “And there goes @realDonaldTrumppath to 1,237. Congrats to team @JohnKasich on an important win,” she tweeted Tuesday.