This could be the swan song for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) if he doesn’t have a strong showing in Indiana next Tuesday in the critical Indiana primary. We have conflicting polls coming out of the Hoosier state, where one poll by the American Research Group has Trump up nine points over Cruz, while another by the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics has Cruz up by double-digits over the real estate mogul. A Cruz super PAC is doling out $350,000 for an ad buy that will be carpet bombed across the state featuring the Texas senator’s running mate Carly Fiorina. Indianapolis Star offered endorsements for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Hillary Clinton, though it wasn’t necessarily a shining endorsement—with the paper saying the state of both races (and the choices left for president) are nothing short of disappointing. Earlier today, Cruz picked up a rather lackluster endorsement from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Exit Sandman? Sen. Bernie Sanders predictably did better once the Democratic contests expanded north of the Mason-Dixon line, but Hillary Clinton pummeled him in the I-95 primaries, giving her a delegate lead that is virtually insurmountable. The Sanders campaign seems to be exhibiting signs that it’s in its death throes, axing hundreds of campaign workers and turning to California. The self-described Democratic socialist spoke at a rally in Springfield, Oregon on April 28, where The New York Times reported that the senator’s remarks focused less on Clinton and more on the future of the Democratic Party, which they say shows that the disheveled darling of the progressive left knows the end is near:
The change in his campaign tone — focusing less on attacking Hillary Clinton — comes as the Vermont senator lays off staff members after several tough losses on Tuesday. Though Mr. Sanders remains adamant that he wants to win the Democratic presidential nomination, his shift hints that the senator is looking past the nominating fight and toward a future role in shaping the party.
At a rally Thursday in Springfield, Ore., Mr. Sanders spoke at length about how Democrats had not spent enough time trying to help working-class people obtain adequate health care and higher wages.
“The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on the side of working people or big-money interests?” Mr. Sanders asked the crowd. “Do we stand with the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor? Or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the drug companies and the insurance companies? Now our job is not just to revitalize the Democratic Party, not only to open the doors to young people and working people — our job is to revitalize American democracy.”
Thus far, Sanders is the candidate who has spent the most money this cycle, totaling around $166 million. Nevertheless, even Sanders’ lone supporter in the U.S. Senate, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, said that he should drop out if he’s still behind Clinton prior to the Democratic National Convention in July.
GOP Almost Done With Five Stages Of Grief With Trump: The Washington Post reports that the officials, donors, operatives, and leaders within the Republican Party have resigned to the fact that Donald Trump will be their nominee. This also comes after the billionaire claims to have broken the 1,000 delegate mark (UPDATE: CNN has him at 1,002 delegates), meaning that a strong showing in Indiana and California could put him over the top going into the convention come July:
An aura of inevitability is now forming around the controversial mogul. Trump smothered his opponents in six straight primaries in the Northeast and vacuumed up more delegates than even the most generous predictions foresaw. He is gaining high-profile endorsements by the day — a legendary Indiana basketball coach Wednesday, two House committee chairmen Thursday. And his rivals, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, are making the kind of rushed tactical moves that signal desperation.
The party is at a turning point. Republican stalwarts opposed to Trump remain fearful of the damage the unconventional and unruly billionaire might inflict on the party’s down-ballot candidates in November. But many also now see him as the all-but-certain nominee and are exhausted by the prospect of a contested July convention, according to interviews this week with more than a dozen party figures from coast to coast.
“People are realizing that he’s the likely nominee,” said Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor and onetime endorser of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. “The hysteria has died down, and the range of emotion is from resignation to enthusiasm.”
In Colorado — where Cruz outfoxed Trump in a series of clamorous meetings earlier this month to win all of the state’s 34 available delegates — former state party chairman Dick Wadhams said, “Fatigue is probably the perfect description of what people are feeling.”
Battle For The Golden State: That fight has already begun, with everyone making maneuvers for a primary that could seal the deal in the nomination fights on both sides (NYT):
The courtship of Californians officially begins on Friday, with the kickoff of the state Republican Party convention in Burlingame. The event will be studded with political stars this year, as Donald J. Trump is scheduled to give a lunchtime speech and Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio is due to speak in the evening.
On Saturday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Carly Fiorina, his running mate, have prime speaking slots, giving the freshly minted ticket a full day to make its case.
For California, primary season politics have rarely mattered this much. The state’s 172 Republican delegates are a big prize, but the high costs of campaigning there and its late placement on the calendar usually make it a political afterthought.
Bloody Protests: Last night, Trump protestors unleashed a rather violent melee against supporters of the billionaire real estate magnate, hurling profanities and debris at passing motorists in Costa Mesa, where Trump kicked off his California campaign. Between 15-20 people were arrested by police as a result. Earlier this afternoon, Trump addressed California Republicans at their convention in Burlingame. Protestors broke through barricades and descended by the hundreds to the entrance of the Hyatt Regency; Trump had to enter through the back. We should expect more of these types of protests, especially in states and cities that are Democratic bastions.
Travel Log: Via National Journal: Cruz is in Indiana. Trump is in California. Kasich is holding a town hall event in San Francisco, and will also be at the California Republican Convention. Cruz will address the attendees as well on Sunday. The Times noted that Clinton is hosting two fundraisers in New York.
Contests Ahead: Indiana is on May 3.