New York - Donald Trump breezed to a victory Tuesday in his home state of New York after a string of setbacks in the Republican presidential contest that raised questions about his durability.
The billionaire’s victory in New York was never in doubt, and polls showed him with a commanding lead over Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The bigger question was whether Trump could exceed 50 percent of the vote and potentially sweep the state’s 95 GOP delegates.
A broad victory would help him edge closer to locking down the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the Republican nomination before the party’s convention in June. He has a precarious path to reach target and, if he doesn’t, he risks losing the nomination to rivals who want to force a contested convention.
That’s become a more likely prospect as Cruz’s campaign has racked up a string of success in the behind-the-scenes battle for support at the convention. In Georgia, Cruz supporters won 32 of the 42 delegate slots up for grabs over the weekend at grass-roots GOP meetings.
Trump had widespread support in New York City and spent the final days before the vote targeting conservative voters in the economically-battered western and northern parts of the state.
Trump celebrated his victory at Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan by predicting he would win enough delegates to avoid a convention fight.
“Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated,” an exuberant Trump said in a brief victory speech. “We’re really, really rocking.”
Kasich and Cruz both crisscrossed the state pitching themselves as an alternative to Trump but struggled to find support. Cruz, in particular, faced persistent questions about his earlier assault on Trump’s “New York values,” a label that many of the billionaire’s supporters wore as a badge of honor. Both the challengers had moved on to Pennsylvania Tuesday as voters in New York cast their ballots.
At a rally in Philadelphia late Tuesday, the Texan unveiled a new slogan — “yes, we will” — and presented himself as the sole Republican who can implement his conservative campaign promises.
“Now is the time as Americans to once again reclaim that hope,” he said, making a not-so-subtle reference to President Barack Obama’s election mantra. “To take another giant leap for mankind.”
Kasich strategist John Weaver said the governor’s second-place finish in New York proves he’s best positioned to challenge Trump in Pennsylvania and the other April 26 states, and that a “vote for Cruz in these states is a vote for Trump.”