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5 takeaways from the GOP primary: Trump picks up steam, local pols join in, Kasich gets a win

Now we know how early voters in Iowa and New Hampshire feel.

While Republican and Democratic candidates alike regularly slog through January snows in those caucus and primary states, New Yorkers got a rare taste of presidential primary politics over the last two weeks as the state’s contests loomed on the national scene.

Candidates, Secret Service, TV trucks everywhere … and now they are gone.

But New York lived up to its billing in helping provide clarity to the cloudy GOP race as Donald Trump scored a solid victory over John Kasich and Ted Cruz on Tuesday.

Here are five takeaways from the contest:

1. Trump regains his momentum

The Manhattan billionaire has never doubted his own abilities, but after getting drubbed in Wisconsin two weeks earlier, he bounced back – big time – with 62 percent of the statewide vote on Tuesday. Remarkably, he carried every county in the state except Manhattan and every congressional district except his own midtown Manhattan neighborhood.

Before the primary, Trump supporters were lowering expectations by suggesting a 50 percent statewide total. But with most of New York’s GOP hierarchy committed to Trump, turnout proved healthy – and mostly for him.

Related: Trump, Sanders ran strong in Erie, Niagara counties

2. Rep. Chris Collins emerges

The Republican congressman from Clarence found himself on national cable TV programs almost nightly since becoming the first member of Congress to support Trump back on Feb. 24. Since then several other House members, including Rep. Tom Reed of Corning, joined Collins on the Trump bandwagon.

But nobody embraced the role like Collins, an original supporter of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He introduced the candidate at First Niagara Center on Monday and resurrected his own “elect a chief executive, not a chief politician” slogan in the process.

Now it remains to be seen if he will continue as a top member of Team Trump.

Related: Chris Collins explains his support for Trump's candidacy

3. Carl Paladino and Nicholas Langworthy join in, too

There was no question that Paladino would latch onto the Trump effort after supporting his short-lived interest in running for governor of New York in 2014. In fact, Paladino seemed to act as a Trump precursor during his own gubernatorial effort in 2010.

Both are called “bombastic” and “shoot from the hip” businessmen turned politicians. And both tapped into voter anger and resentment to handily win statewide GOP primaries.

As a result, Paladino appeared on national television Tuesday night and on every front page in America Wednesday morning standing at Trump’s shoulder during his victory speech.

Add Langworthy to the list of winners joining the Trump effort, even if a bit belatedly. The Erie County GOP chairman initially backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s short-lived candidacy, but then went all in for Trump. It paid off as the 26th Congressional District supported Trump with 64 percent of the vote.

Related: Trump reignites outsider fervor that energized Paladino's emergence

4. Trump’s Monday night rally in First Niagara Center loomed large in the New York campaign

Though Trump supporters may have quietly expressed disappointment in failing to fill all 19,000 seats, almost 12,000 was not bad.

Somebody knew enough to feature Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan for his endorsement and introduction, which landed the rally on the front page of the New York City tabloids on Election Day. And saving New York’s second-largest city for his last stop provided a serious bang for Trump’s campaign buck.

Related: Trump wins home state, lion's share of delegates

5. Kasich appears to have accomplished his purpose

He picked off a delegate or two in Manhattan, and that allows him to go to the Republican National Convention in July with a substantial number of delegates, just in case the Trump momentum somehow fades – even if that scenario appears increasingly unlikely.

But he never even set foot in Erie County, the only candidate to fail to show locally. It was considered “Trump country.”

Cruz, meanwhile, proved a non-entity in the New York race. His sole appearance drew about 300 to a staged MSNBC town hall meeting at the University at Buffalo, paling in comparison to the big rallies held by Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Might Cruz possibly regret that remark about “New York values?”

Related: The differences between the candidates? They're huge

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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