Josh Kraushaar of National Journal has an interesting article this morning suggesting that despite concerns about what the nomination of businessman Donald Trump would likely mean for the Republican Party in November, dislike of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is pushing many of the party's leaders to acquiesce to Trump's nomination.
If Donald Trump goes onto to win Indiana’s primary Tuesday, all but guaranteeing him the Republican presidential nomination, the story of the GOP campaign will be the party leadership’s acquiescence to the billionaire businessman. Former House Speaker John Boehner, at a critical moment, publicly proclaimed his hatred for Ted Cruz this week (“Lucifer in the flesh”) and said he would vote for Trump, an occasional golfing partner and “texting buddy.” Most senators’ relationships with Cruz are so poor that they’ve remained on the sidelines instead of rallying behind the Texas senator to stop Trump. If it weren’t for Trump’s self-inflicted wounds after pivotal victories, the nomination would be his by now.
Indiana provides the last chance for Republican leaders to make a meaningful impact on the race, and most have been reluctant to do so—even though the state is still competitive and a Cruz victory would again alter the trajectory of the primary. Gov. Mike Pence, a hero to conservatives for years, belatedly (and somewhat perfunctorily) endorsed Cruz on Friday. He did so after coming under relentless pressure from allies who wondered why he was staying on the sidelines in such a crucial contest. Pence clearly was worried about alienating the state’s bloc of Trump supporters in a year he’s running for reelection, and he went out of his way to praise Trump before announcing his support for Cruz. “I’m not against anybody, but I’m voting for Ted Cruz,” Pence said....
What makes this GOP surrender so remarkable is that, by not fighting Trump more aggressively, Republicans are acting against their own self-interest. This rarely happens in politics. As I’ve outlined previously, a Trump nomination risks severe down-ballot losses. Cruz, while a weak nominee, would be more likely to keep the party (uncomfortably) together—with a fighting chance to defeat Hillary Clinton. It’s why Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, in a tough reelection bid of his own, publicly announced that he voted for Cruz in his blue-state primary. A national Democratic landslide in 2016 would likely end Pence’s political career in Indiana.
With Trump as the nominee, he becomes the new party boss—at least for several months, and potentially longer. As a person who prizes loyalty above all else, he’ll undoubtedly have scores to settle. Anti-Trump Republicans who stayed silent as Trump bulldozed his way through the Republican Party will be in for a rude awakening under their new master.
Politics is often about making difficult choices, and it is likely to be a while before we learn whether, in potentially accepting a Trump nomination, many Republican Party leaders have made the right one.