What Will Happen To Marco Rubio's Delegates? The Florida Senator Just Fizzled Out

Now that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has officially dropped out of the Republican race for president, things could get interesting in terms of delegate math. Rubio racked up more than 150 delegates during his time as a candidate, thanks to wins in Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and Minnesota. That's not much when you factor in how a candidate has to win 1,237 delegates to earn the party's nomination, but Rubio's delegates will have to go to someone when the Republican National Convention rolls around in July, even if it isn't the candidate they had originally been assigned to.

In losing his home state to Donald Trump during Tuesday's "Mega Tuesday" primaries, Rubio lost out on a potential 99 delegates in the winner-take-all state. That sum could have placed him substantially closer to catching up with Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Although he won't be adding any delegates to his scorecard now that he's dropped out, Rubio's existing delegates could still make a difference in the Republican race.

In short, these delegates will now be free to realign themselves with a different candidate. It's possible that they'll align with whomever Rubio chooses to endorse. It's also possible that they'll attend the nominating convention in July uncommitted, much like many superdelegates on the Democratic side, who officially have until the convention to make up their minds.

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There's some ambiguity about the future of Rubio's delegates, though, thanks to his word choice on Tuesday night. In conceding the Florida primary to Trump, he said that his campaign was "suspended." It's possible, then, that he isn't officially (aka legally) ending his campaign. If his campaign remains active but dormant until the convention, then Rubio could technically reenter the race and reclaim his delegates. This would really only be important in the event that Trump (or any other candidate) fails to earn the 1,237 necessary delegates.

According to Curly Haughland, a member of the Republican National Committee (RNC) rules committee, all delegates on the Republican side of the race are technically unbound until the convention. That's the subject of a letter he distributed last week. That's good news for delegates who are pledged to long-gone candidates, but it seems to contradict the RNC's recently updated delegates policy. Before this year's primary season kicked into overdrive, the RNC issued a rule that all states with "presidential preference polls" (aka primaries) must bind their delegates to the outcomes of such contests. Some states, such as Colorado, have tried to get around this by making their caucus systems more indirect. If Haughland is right, though, then any delegate assigned to a removed candidate, including Rubio, could be free to choose a new candidate come convention time.