John Kasich Keeping His Delegates Is Just A Defiant Protest Against Donald Trump

Remember John Kasich? He's the governor of Ohio who was running for the Republican presidential nomination. Although his campaign trailed hopelessly behind Donald Trump's and Sen. Ted Cruz's throughout the primary season, Kasich stuck with it until May 4, when he suspended his campaign one day after Cruz threw in the towel amid a crushing defeat in Indiana. But the governor managed to pick up a party favor-sized satchel of delegates along the way. And Kasich is going to keep his delegates in what appears to be a protest move against Trump.

On Monday, Kasich sent letters to officials in the 16 states in which he won delegates saying that he wants his delegates to remain bound to him, The Washington Post reported. A Kasich aide told the Post that it is wise for the former candidate to hang onto them given the unpredictable nature of the 2016 primary season, but it's hard to believe that Kasich still thinks it's possible for Trump to fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs to become the automatic nominee. Trump only needs about 30 more delegates in the primaries to reach that number, and there are 303 up for grabs on June 7.

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Back when Sen. Marco Rubio requested to keep his 172 delegates after suspending his campaign in March, it was clearly a practical move. At that point, a brokered convention was possible. Had Trump not trounced his fellow contenders in the remainder of the primaries, he might not have ended up with 1,237 delegates through the primary process, and then delegates would have been left to decide for themselves at the convention in July.

Rubio still has not released his delegates. His and Kasich's decision to keep their delegates even though hopes of a brokered convention have been dashed seems more about protesting Trump than anything else. Kasich's aide also told the Post that Kasich hopes keeping his delegates will somehow persuade Trump to become more positive before the convention in an effort to unify the party. Keeping his delegates is an anti-endorsement of Trump as he is and how he has run his campaign thus far.

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For Cruz's part, there was an additional reason for requesting to keep his 568 delegates. His more substantial haul could translate to a good amount of power at July's convention, and over the party's future. CNN quoted a letter Cruz wrote to Kansas Republican Party Chair Kelly Arnold:

I encourage all delegates who supported my campaign — and who support a constitutional conservative agenda that will grow jobs, protect our freedoms, and ensure our security — to actively participate in shaping the Party platform and rules in a manner that will ensure our cause is advanced.

Rubio and Kasich aren't likely to have much sway at the convention, but they seem committed to expressing their disapproval of Trump by keeping their delegates.