the national interest

Non-Trump Republicans Break Out Into Turf Wars

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich have some turf wars to fight. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Super Tuesday’s results transformed the Republican race by forcing party elites to abandon their plan of clearing a path for Marco Rubio. The new plan is to try to keep Donald Trump from amassing a majority through fragmentation, by keeping four candidates in the race, and hoping the various non-Trump alternatives can pick up delegates in their individual areas of strength. But this strategy requires coordination. Yes, Rubio can be allowed to concentrate on his home state of Florida, and John Kasich on his home state of Ohio. But what about everywhere else?

Natasha Korecki reports from Illinois, where Rubio and Kasich loyalists are staging the first of what will probably be many turf battles over which candidate gets to be the main anti-Trump. “Supporters of Ohio Gov. John Kasich believe they have the most viable path to victory in President Obama’s home state and hold up as evidence Kasich’s stated plan to pay at least three visits to Illinois before the March 15 primary,” she reports. On the other hand, “Sen. Marco Rubio’s team has made a strong run at Illinois in recent weeks and argues it has the best organization on the ground,” and, “Rubio’s camp sees the vote-rich metro suburbs as ‘Rubio country.’

The dilemma, of course, is that the non-Trumps all need to defeat him, but they also have strong incentives to compete with each other. There is no agreed-upon endgame at the Republican National Convention, so all of the candidates have an incentive to grab as many delegates for themselves as possible to maximize their own leverage. Plus, there is always the additional incentive for a candidate to defect to Donald Trump’s side in exchange for a spot on his ticket.

What Republicans need is some kind of commission like La Cosa Nostra has that can divide the country into formal territories, in which each candidate would operate a sanctioned monopoly. Of course, the commission doesn’t always stop the families from breaking out into violence from time to time.