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 RubioOvernight Defense: Commander calls North Korea crisis 'worst' he's seen | Trump signs VA order | Dems push Trump to fill national security posts What’s with Trump’s spelling mistakes? Boeing must be stopped from doing business with Iran 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 TrumpCohn: People 'wasting time' calling for Trump's tax returns Overnight Energy: Trump set to sign offshore drilling order Bush ethics lawyer: Trump should strip Flynn of military title 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 HatchGinsburg pines for more collegial court confirmations Senate's No. 2 Republican: Border tax 'probably dead' Overnight Finance: Inside Trump's tax plan | White House mulls order pulling out of NAFTA | New fight over Dodd-Frank begins MORE (R-Utah) joked to reporters on Wednesday. 

Only three Republicans remain in the race: Trump, Texas Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzNet neutrality fight descends into trench warfare Secret Service: No guns at Trump NRA speech Cruz: Breaking up 9th Circuit Court ‘a possibility’ 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 FlakeJeff FlakeTrudeau, Trump speak for second night about US-Canada trade Trump says he may break up 9th Circuit Court after rulings go against him Trump administration weighing order to withdraw from NAFTA 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 InhofeTaiwan deserves to participate in United Nations Optimism rising for infrastructure deal Repeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate 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.