The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump-Kasich vs. Cruz-Rubio at the Convention?

Georgia Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans offered radio host Michael Graham a surprising prediction about the convention in Cleveland:

“I would venture to bet that what eventually will happen is we’re gonna see two of the candidates cut a deal,” Evans said. “And they’re gonna say, you get your delegates to us, you’ll be the VP, we’re gonna run as a ticket. And literally, what you could do in the oddest sort of way, is have the first ballot be two ticket ballots: Trump-Kasich versus Cruz-Rubio. Now that would be wild, because I’ve run the scenarios on that, and there is no way to predict how such a vote would turn out.”

For what it’s worth, Kasich’s spokesmen have insisted, repeatedly and clearly, that there is “zero chance, zero, none” they would cut a deal with Trump over delegates. And Kasich has said he “would be the worst vice president anybody could ever imagine.” Reportedly Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a friend to both Rubio and Cruz, reached out to Rubio about the possibility of a unity ticket; Rubio said he wasn’t interested.

But in the heat of the moment in Cleveland, with a spot on the ticket within grasp, does all of that opposition disappear?

There’s a complication to this theory of two candidates attempting to merge their delegates together to reach the threshold: Most delegates are bound to vote for a particular candidate for a certain number of ballots under their respective state rules. In other words, even if, say, Marco Rubio wanted his delegates to vote for Cruz, they wouldn’t be able to do so until they were unbound — and even then, in most states, those delegates are free agents. They can follow instructions from the candidate or ignore them. Kasich’s Ohio delegates might be free to switch if the Ohio were to withdraw:

The Ohio Republican Party rules are mostly silent on the matter of the release and/or binding of delegates. Article X, Section 1(d), the special rule added to make the allocation winner-take-all for just 2016, awards all 66 delegates to the winner of the statewide Ohio primary. That is the extent of the binding. Not included is information on how delegates would be released in the event that the winner of the primary withdraws from the race in addition to any description of how long those delegates would be bound at the national convention. Unlike other states, the number of ballots bound is not specified in the Ohio Republican Party rules.

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