Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced on Monday that he will vote for Ted Cruz in his state’s primary on Tuesday. Herbert made his declaration via Facebook, in the same manner as Mitt Romney did on Friday. He phrased his support for Cruz in exactly that fashion, saying: “I will join Mitt Romney in casting my ballot tomorrow night for Texas Senator Ted Cruz.”
I am announcing today that I will join Mitt Romney in casting my ballot tomorrow night for Texas Senator Ted Cruz….
Romney declared he would vote for Cruz, but did not endorse the Texas senator. He said the primaries are a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism. In order to defeat Trump, he advocated an open convention and wrote that “the only way we can reach an open convention is for Senator Cruz to be successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible.”
Herbert made a more full-throated endorsement of Cruz, declaring that “Ted Cruz is a consistent conservative who understands the importance of federalism.” The Utah governor said he is confident Cruz “will work to limit the federal government, when it comes to education, public lands and other issues where states can do better than the federal government.”
“Utah is no longer considered a flyover state,” Herbert declared. “For the first time in recent memory, Utah voters will play a critical role in the presidential nominating contest.” Herbert noted that his state will award 40 delegates to the Republican National Convention, and that if one of the candidates wins more than 50 percent of the vote, he will receive all 40 delegates. Explicitly mentioning this fact, while supporting Cruz — who has a commanding lead at 53 percent in the most recent poll — suggests that Herbert wants Cruz to pick up as many delegates as possible.
The governor added that, considering the vacancy on the Supreme Court, “it is essential we have a president who will nominate a strong conservative to the court who will use the Constitution as his or her guide.” He expanded this subtle dig at Trump by adding that “too often campaigns are all flash and no substance. Utahns deserve well thought out (sic) policy and plans.”
Cruz needs 77 percent of the remaining delegates available in the contest to win the GOP nomination outright. A win in Utah which took all the delegates would help, but Arizona’s winner-take-all primary (where Trump leads the polls) may hold Cruz back. If Trump wins a few more states, he could make it impossible for Cruz to win outright, but Cruz and Kasich could prevent Trump himself from winning the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination without an open convention. For more on this, check out PJ Media’s analysis of the Utah and Arizona primaries.