Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has a dead presidential campaign, and has said he will not be running for re-election. His recent decision to lobby Republican Party officials to hold onto the 172 delegates he won during his campaign has one objective: deny Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump the ability to get to the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the party's nomination.
Rubio's decision frankly makes no sense, even if the Republican Party is desperate to stop Trump. This move only serves to provide more guarantees of a chaotic contested Republican convention in which Trump, the clear front-runner of the race, is denied the nomination. The decision is a gift to the Democrats, and it was executed in a very poor manner.
Let's review the process which will play out at the convention, under normal circumstances: Most GOP delegates will arrive at the convention pledged to support the candidate who won their state's primary or caucus, although they may be reallocated before the convention if said candidate -- Rubio, in this case -- drops out of the race. Trump and Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas would now have the opportunity to add to their delegate haul by trying to persuade Rubio's delegates to support them -- again, under normal circumstances, as Slate's Josh Voorhees notes.
So far, only the Alaska Republican Party has granted Rubio's request, according to USA Today. Only 5 delegates are at stake and these are not delegates which originally went for Donald Trump anyway, so if few other states fail to follow the Alaska GOP's lead in granting Rubio's request, it will have been fairly inconsequential.
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However, the 172 delegates that Rubio wants to hold onto represents more than half of the 323 unbound delegates whose support is needed by Trump and Cruz before the July convention, USA Today reports. If a significant number of the 21 states in which Rubio won delegates allow him to hold onto them, a brokered convention becomes far more likely.
If Trump somehow falls short of the 1,237 delegates he needs to win, it is hard to see how the Republican Party will not try to deny him the nomination by taking a second vote. Since there is such a disparity in the amount of the popular votes gained by Trump's two rivals -- Cruz and Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio -- Rubio's move opens the possibility for someone like Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan or former Republican. Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts to enter the race.
This move will split the Republican Party if successful, as Salon's Sean Illing notes. Despite the negativity of Trump's campaign and what seems to be the beginnings of a backlash against him by multiple parts of the general electorate, he has been winning the Republican primaries by the party's own rules. A successful appeal by Rubio to hold onto his delegates in many of those 21 states would alienate Trump's supporters even more at the convention, and without them, the party is unlikely to be very competitive in the general election.
Finally, Rubio's move cannot be discussed without referring to the poor manner in which it was conducted. The letter he sent to the 21 state parties has a glaring typo in a critical spot: Rubio refers to the "Untied" States of America. We all make typos sometimes -- I myself am certainly guilty of doing such -- but this is a glaring oversight which both diminishes Rubio's credibility and also speaks to the shoddy manner in which his entire campaign was run.