Washington Times - April 25, 2016
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Presidential contender John Kasich is coming to Oregon this week, wasting no time in courting voters here after he and rival Ted Cruz announced they were teaming up in three states to try and torpedo front-runner Donald Trump’s drive to seal the GOP nomination before the Republican convention.
Kasich has scheduled a town hall in Portland on Thursday (April 28) and later in the day travels to Medford, a Republican stronghold.
Cruz and Kasich are essentially doing a trade, with Cruz stepping away from campaigning in Oregon and New Mexico in exchange for Kasich doing the same in Indiana. That puts Oregon’s May 17 primary in the national spotlight.
A total of 1,237 delegates are needed to win the nomination ahead of the Republican National Convention this summer in Cleveland. With Trump ahead in the delegate count, Cruz and Kasich are trying to ensure that the national convention is open, or brokered, and beat Trump after the first round of voting. That’s where Oregon and New Mexico come in.
Cruz and Trump are neck-and-neck in Indiana, so with Kasich taking a back seat, Cruz has a better chance of walking away with all 57 delegates up for grabs on May 3, said Ben Gaskins, an assistant professor of political science at Portland-based Lewis & Clark College.
Gaskins said Oregon and New Mexico were likely handed to Kasich because, unlike the other 13 remaining GOP primaries, both states have small delegate counts - 28 and 24, respectively - that are bound proportionally to however Republicans vote and the primaries are closed.
“In Oregon, Republicans tend to be more moderate, so it’s unlikely Cruz would’ve done really that well in Oregon anyway,” Gaskins said. “So this does allow Kasich to really consolidate the anti-Trump vote and perhaps come off with a victory … which gets him a better point in the convention as another viable alternative to Trump.”
The Cruz campaign is trying to rack up as many delegates as possible that are likely to sway in his favor should their votes become unbound after the first round of voting at the convention, “so I can imagine that he would have that assumption about Oregon and New Mexico, that those Kasich delegates would prefer Cruz to Trump,” Gaskins said.
But Trump’s Oregon operation is confident the move won’t hurt their candidate.
“I’m not totally sure what they’re up to, but I’m very confident their plan won’t work, however, in Oregon and in general, just because I think the voters will see this for what it is - it’s trying to undermine the will of the voters and turn this into inside baseball delegate-type selection, instead of how we normally do it,” said Jacob Daniels, Trump’s Oregon campaign manager.
Bill Currier, chair of the Oregon Republican Party, said the Cruz-Kasich collaboration could end up benefiting Trump.
“I think this will actually strengthen (Trump’s) base because he’s always been the ‘outsider,’ and so this will strengthen his base and they will feel like Cruz and Trump are ganging up on him, so I think it’ll actually energize them,” Currier said.
Oregon campaign organizers for Cruz and Kasich did not respond to requests for comment.