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 RubioCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico The Hill's 12:30 Report Colbert mocks Trump for sipping water during speech on Asia trip 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 TrumpO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump Right way and wrong way Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy 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 HatchProminent conservative passes on Utah Senate bid Republicans offer this impossible choice: Tax cuts or senior care Senate GOP running out of options to stop Moore MORE (R-Utah) joked to reporters on Wednesday. 

Only three Republicans remain in the race: Trump, Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTexas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request Dem rep: Trump disaster aid request is 'how you let America down again' Moore endorsements disappear from campaign website 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 FlakeSpokesman: Flake’s vote on tax reform will have nothing to do with Trump Trump slams Flake over hot-mic comments: Senator's career is 'toast' Bannon: McConnell 'picking up his game' because of our 'insurgent movement' 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. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenators tear into controversial Trump environment nominee McCain backs Pentagon nominee despite concerns over defense industry ties GOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate 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.