In an unprecedented move, Republican presidential contenders Ted Cruz and John Kasich joined forces Sunday night, pledging to stay out of each other’s way in three upcoming primary states. This striking development, revealed by the campaigns in press statements released minutes apart, comes only days after Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s dominant performance in his home state of New York, where he won nearly all of the state’s 95 delegates.
According to the pact, Mr. Kasich will withdraw his campaign resources from Indiana, a critical state for Mr. Trump in his bid to capture the nomination on the first ballot, and will instead focus his efforts on Oregon and New Mexico, which are “structurally similar to the Northeast politically, where Gov. Kasich is performing well,” according to the Kasich campaign’s statement. This decision also enables the Ohio governor to make a greater impact with his limited campaign resources, which will be more than sufficient to saturate the relatively inexpensive Oregon and New Mexico media markets with advertising. Sen. Cruz, meanwhile, will concentrate his resources on Indiana, where recent polling shows him only a few points behind Mr. Trump. Indiana also shares many demographic characteristics with Wisconsin, a state which Mr. Cruz dominated in the first week of April.
A fiery reaction to the announcement came almost immediately from Mr. Trump himself, who tweeted his thoughts on Sunday night. “[J]ust announced that Lyin’ Ted and Kasich are going to collude in order to keep me from getting the Republican nomination,” he wrote. “DESPERATION!” The real estate mogul’s social media director also leapt into the fray, casting the move as the clearest evidence yet of Mr. Trump’s growing inevitability in the GOP nomination fight.
It remains to be seen whether this pact between Messrs. Cruz and Kasich will broaden into an full-scale alliance against Donald Trump. Neither candidate’s campaign statement foreshadows cooperation elsewhere on the primary map, even in the upcoming northeastern primaries where a collaborative effort could limit Mr. Trump’s delegate gains.