NEW YORK – Donald J. Trump resumed his march through the Republican primaries Tuesday with an overwhelming New York victory, snaring the most important prize of the campaign so far and fortifying his claim as the man to beat for his party’s presidential nomination.
Just as polls predicted, Trump – with 62 percent of the statewide vote – easily dispatched Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Trump’s victory was overwhelming, winning all 27 congressional districts of New York State. In fact, it appeared late Tuesday that he won by 50 percent or more in all but four congressional districts. If that 50 percent threshold stands, he will have won 91 of the 95 delegates up for grabs Tuesday and pledged to him on the first ballot at the Republican convention in Cleveland. Kasich, who with 24 percent of the votes statewide, stands to gain the four remaining delegates.
Trump made an elaborate victory entrance to the lobby of his Trump Tower, accompanied by his wife, family, and a Frank Sinatra recording crooning “New York, New York.” In a short, restrained and “presidential” address of just 10 minutes, Trump declared Cruz “is just about mathematically eliminated.”
He crowed that it was “nice to win and get delegates” in a reference to his claims that he was cheated out of delegates in a few recent primaries and caucuses, indicating he now believes he leads Cruz by some 300 delegates
But the win also solidifies his front-runner status, making it even more difficult for any rival to challenge him later with such an overwhelming number of delegates stacked in his corner.
Cruz, second to Trump in the overall delegate count, finished third in New York, with 14 percent of the votes. That fit into the scenario Trump offered from the First Niagara Center podium Monday night, when he mused “wouldn’t it be something” if the senator from Texas finished third.
Absent from Trump’s address Tuesday was the boastful bravado that dominated his speech just 24 hours earlier in Buffalo. He sounded an almost humble tone, thanking his family and staff – the same staff some observers credit with getting him back on track toward winning delegates.
Trump then reiterated the highlights of his just-completed two-week barnstorming tour of New York, and said some of the same business people joining him in Trump Tower on Tuesday night would accompany him to Washington.
“We’re going to use our great business people to negotiate unbelievable trade deals,” he said. “You’re going to be very proud of this country very soon.”
One of those businessmen was Carl P. Paladino of Buffalo, the GOP’s 2010 candidate for governor and a close Trump ally, who was with Trump in New York.
“Did you get the story?” Paladino yelled over the bedlam of press row. “We won!”
In his speech, Trump said he will strengthen the military, provide for its veterans, overhaul NAFTA and other trade deals, replace Obamacare with a better health care system and get rid of the Common Core education regulations.
“It’s going to be over, and the local communities are going to take care of their educational needs,” he said.
Trump said he learned much from his New York State campaigning, pointing to crowds reaching almost 20,000 people in some places like Albany.
“The people of this country and this state are truly a great and amazing people,” he declared.
Trump flies to Indiana on Wednesday morning to begin the next phase of his chase for the 1,237 delegate votes he needs for nomination at the Republican National Convention in July. He hinted that he will adopt the same approach in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and other states as he did in New York.
“We have problems, everywhere you look,” he said. “We are going to solve those problems.”
And as close to getting emotional as Trump seems to get, he expressed appreciation for winning in his home state.
“I can think of nowhere we would rather have this victory,” he said.
Kasich, meanwhile, solidified his own position as the “stop Trump” candidate, even if the scant number of delegates he picked off Tuesday failed to advance his cause in any meaningful way.
Trump’s New York victory reverses the setback he suffered two weeks ago when Cruz won in Wisconsin, plus the gains the Texas senator chalked up last weekend in Wyoming and Georgia.
The big New York victory also injects a dose of momentum into Trump’s campaign as he heads into another round of contests next Tuesday, in Pennsylvania and several other Northeast states as well as the seven-week drive toward the end of the primary season.
Trump’s victory proved a cause for celebration in one of the many Manhattan buildings that bear his name.
Kasich, in Pittsburgh earlier in the day, seemed realistic about his chances in New York, predicting he would win “some delegates.” That appeared to be the Ohio governor’s main goal all along, as he has continued to seek more delegates to bring to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Trump waged an intensive campaign throughout the state. He appeared twice on Long Island. And he landed in Albany, Watertown, Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Plattsburgh, Poughkeepsie and finally in Buffalo to end his effort on Monday night.
In each of those venues, Trump gathered substantial crowds, including more than 11,000 in Buffalo’s First Niagara Center. All of that pointed to the overwhelming victory he notched in his home state on Tuesday.
Much of Trump’s success stems from his celebrity as a businessman, reality television star, and as one of the most famous men in America. But his win also results from the significant organizational support he received throughout the state Republican Party, even though state Chairman Edward F. Cox remained steadfastly neutral.
Trump counted on powerful allies such as Paladino, the 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate who maintains ties throughout various conservative networks that he recruited for Trump. Paladino was one of those introducing Trump in Buffalo on Monday, as he did at all the large gatherings throughout the state.
In addition, top Republican county chairmen like Erie’s Nicholas A. Langworthy represented the organization strength of which Cruz and Kasich could only dream. Indeed, the Trump campaign claimed 75 percent of the state’s weighted Republican vote, translating into workers canvassing neighborhoods and volunteers at phone banks.
Cruz noted virtually no such organizational support in his New York campaign, with his travels bringing him to Buffalo only once for a relatively small gathering of around 300 at the University at Buffalo for an MSNBC town meeting. Kasich seemed to concede Western New York as Trump country, coming only as far as Rochester.
Relatively speaking, few dollars were spent in the nation’s most expensive media market in New York City, as well as in other upstate cities. MSNBC reported Tuesday that Kasich led statewide advertising with $480,000, followed by Cruz at $467,000 and Trump – who is largely self-financing his campaign – at $67,000.