One of the major beneficiaries of Marco Rubio’s decision to suspend his campaign Tuesday may be John Kasich. A potential legal hurdle which could have prevented Kasich from appearing on the ballot in Pennsylvania has now been dropped according to TribLive:
Representatives of the Marco Rubio campaign challenged the Kasich petitions, claiming the Ohio governor did not submit enough signatures to appear on the ballot.
One day after the Florida senator’s decision to suspend his campaign, Rubio student operative Nathaniel Rome dropped the Commonwealth Court filing he initiated, said Chris Bravacos, CEO of the Bravo Group and brother to the attorney representing Rome.
Bravacos said Rome requested to withdraw the objection to the Kasich nomination petition Wednesday afternoon.
As Jazz Shaw outlined Monday, there was a real possibility that Kasich could lose this fight. His attorney stipulated he did not have the minimum number of signatures required to appear on the ballot. The only remaining question was whether the challenge itself would stand because it was time-stamped 5:13pm on the deadline day. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the legal wrangling over the deadline:
At issue is whether challenges to Pennsylvania nominating petitions are due by 5 p.m. or 11:59 p.m. on the last day to file.
Attorneys for Mr. Kasich and the objector have stipulated that the campaign filed no more than 2,184 signatures with the state, and that 192 of those signatures were not valid. Republican and Democratic candidates for president must submit 2,000 signatures to appear on the ballot.
But the objection to Mr. Kasich’s nominating petition was filed at 5:13 p.m. on the last day to challenge nominating petitions, and his attorney argues that makes it 13 minutes too late to be considered. The objector’s attorney disagrees, saying there is no requirement that the filing be received by 5 p.m.
The statute that established the deadline simply said a challenge had to be turned in a week after a given date. Kasich’s attorneys argued that at the time the statute was enacted there would have been no such thing as email or internet submissions making the deadline close-of-business or 5pm. Attorneys connected with the Rubio camp argued that, since the statute itself didn’t specify a time, the submission was valid until midnight. Had the challenge been ruled valid, Kasich’s name would have been removed from the ballot.
Pennsylvania is the next big state that Kasich claims he can win in the fight for the GOP nomination. With about 60% of the delegates already distributed, there is no way Kasich can overtake Trump in the race; however, by denying Trump delegates in big northern states there is a small chance Trump will fail to earn enough delegates to claim an outright win. And that could lead to a contested (and possibly a brokered) convention in which some delegates abandon Trump and vote for another candidate, such as Cruz or Kasich.
But even that scenario is not terribly likely to result in a Kasich win. As the candidate with the second highest delegate count (so far) Ted Cruz would be a more likely alternative. That’s assuming Trump can’t convince enough delegates to jump to his side on the first ballot. If he continues at his current pace Trump will have nearly all the delegates he needs for a win. He would only need to pick up 100 or so more from a large pool of uncommitted delegates. In other words, even if Trump doesn’t enter the convention an outright winner, he is still most likely to win the first round of balloting.