Following New York billionaire Donald Trump’s victory in Indiana Tuesday night, Ohio governor John Kasich, the last challenger to Trump, has formally suspended his campaign.
Kasich has continually polled in the single digits, winning only 154 of the 2,472 delegate spots up for grabs as the Republicans select their next leader.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz withdrew from the race Tuesday evening, after Indiana’s win for Trump brought the real estate mogul’s delegate count up to 1,014–just 223 shy of a first ballot majority.
At a press conference Wednesday, Kasich thanked the people of Ohio for supporting him not only in his gubernatorial campaign, but even in his pursuit of the presidency.
“The people of Ohio have given me the greatest experience of a lifetime,” he said, announcing his campaign’s suspension.
With no opponents left in the race, Trump becomes the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee to take on the Democratic nominee in November – presumably Hillary Clinton.
Though armed with an extensive resume in politics, the second-term Ohio governor struggled to connect with Republican primary voters in a year dominated by anti-establishment frustration. Kasich was a more moderate candidate who embraced elements of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and called for an optimistic and proactive Republican agenda.
At the beginning of the race, the Republic field was filled with 20 candidates, ranging from business-based outsiders like Trump and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina to seasoned politicians like governors Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry.
Even before news of Kasich’s decision surfaced, Trump signaled a new phase of his outsider campaign that includes a search for a running mate with experience governing and outreach to one-time competitors in an effort to heal the fractured Republican Party.
“I am confident I can unite much of” the GOP, Trump said Wednesday on NBC’s Today Show, as several prominent Republicans said they’d prefer Democrat Clinton over the New York billionaire.
The Republican competition changed dramatically with Trump’s Indiana victory and Ted Cruz’s abrupt decision to quit the race. Trump won the Indiana contest with 53.3 per cent of the vote, to Cruz’s 36.6 per cent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 7.6 per cent, according to unofficial results.
Despite Trump’s success in the open primaries–where anyone can register as a Republican to vote in the party’s primary–a number of longtime Republicans, including Senators, published on social media their intent to never vote for Donald Trump, even after he claims the nomination.