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Rubio supporters in Congress warm to contested convention

Rubio supporters in Congress warm to contested convention
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Lawmakers who endorsed Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump must send Russia powerful message through tougher actions McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash Taking a strong stance to protect election integrity MORE’s failed presidential bid are running out of options and warming to the prospect of a contested GOP convention.

They say going to the convention without a predetermined nominee may be the only way to prevent Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE, the party’s front-runner, from winning the nomination.

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“I’m not sure it’s the best route, but it may be the only real remaining route,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), who had endorsed the Florida senator. “So if that is the case, then, you know, let’s move boldly into it.”

Some of the Rubio backers are two-time losers.

Many initially supported Jeb Bush for president before moving to Rubio after the former Florida governor dropped out of the Republican race following a disastrous finish in South Carolina’s primary.

Now they’ve seen their second choice for an establishment pick fall to defeat — and in his home state. Rubio suspended his campaign Tuesday night after finishing well behind Trump in Florida’s primary.

“I find that my endorsement is the kiss of death,” Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Overnight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Hatch introduces bipartisan bill to clarify cross-border data policies MORE (R-Utah) joked to reporters on Wednesday. 

Only three Republicans remain in the race: Trump, Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSasse statement: Trump nominee who spread conspiracy theories has a ‘tinfoil hat’ Coalition of 44 groups calls for passage of drug pricing bill For the sake of our democracy, politicians must stop bickering MORE and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich and his supporters are embracing the idea of a brokered convention, which represents the last establishment candidate’s only hope of winning the nomination.

“I think a contested convention may be an inevitability unless Donald Trump can a secure a majority of delegates going into the convention, which mathematically seems a bit tough right now,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), a Kasich supporter.

Trump would need to win more than 60 percent of the delegates left to reach the 1,237 necessary to clinch the nomination.

It could be a daunting goal, though it is certainly not impossible, since Trump will now be splitting votes with just two other candidates. Several winner-take-all states, including Arizona on March 22, also remain.

Lawmakers who aren’t on board with Trump question whether he can reach the number.

“Right now, when I look at the math, there’s not a clear pathway to 1,237 [delegates],” said Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who had endorsed Bush before Rubio. “The best outcome is to have a solid Republican nominee who can unify the party. How that happens is a procedural issue.”

When asked if a brokered convention might be the best chance left for a preferable candidate, Rubio supporter Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Huckabee Sanders: Dems need to decide if they 'hate' Trump 'more than they love this country' Trump spokeswoman fires back at Flake: 'His numbers are in the tank' MORE (R-Ariz.) laughed nervously before answering, “All I can say is that I’m concerned about a Trump nomination.”

Sixty-two Republicans endorsed Rubio for president — more than any other GOP candidate.

Lawmakers who endorsed Rubio said both the Kasich and Cruz campaigns reached out to them after the Florida senator’s poor showing in his home state Tuesday night.

But there was no huge movement on Wednesday, a departure from February, when nearly a dozen lawmakers quickly switched their support to Rubio after Bush suspended his campaign.

Kasich collected one new congressional endorsement on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeRepublican agenda clouded by division Overnight Regulation: Dems go on attack during EPA chief's hearing | Mnuchin promises more Russia sanctions | Regulators subpoena major bitcoin exchange | New lawsuit over FDA e-cig rule Dems go on the attack during EPA chief's hearing MORE (R-Okla.) confirmed that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman would be switching his endorsement from Rubio to Kasich.

Meanwhile, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who had also endorsed Rubio, said she would support Cruz.

If Trump does clinch the nomination, several lawmakers predicted Republicans would still be deeply divided over his candidacy.

“There are going to be hurt feelings no matter what,” Dent said.