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 RubioOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration 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 TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment 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 HatchFinance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea Week ahead in finance: Clock ticking for GOP on tax reform MORE (R-Utah) joked to reporters on Wednesday. 

Only three Republicans remain in the race: Trump, Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention 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 FlakeCorker pressed as reelection challenges mount -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations 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 InhofeA third of Congress hasn’t held a town hall — it’s time to take action Anonymous affiliate publishes claimed list of GOP private contact info Wasting America’s nuclear opportunity 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.