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OPINION: Say goodbye to that contested convention... maybe


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Columnist Ben Solis

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took the New York primaries by storm. Both candidates won the Empire State with close to or slightly more than 60 percent of the vote.

The results give the presidential hopefuls a clearer shot at becoming their party's nominee.

Clearer, but not crystal clear.

Despite commanding leads, the race remains contentious with big delegate states looming in the distance.

According to most politicos, the momentum created by Clinton's victory is a turning point that makes the path forward for Sen. Bernie Sanders extremely difficult.

On Republican row, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are barely holding on. Kasich's shot is statistically impossible. Cruz clings to the hope that people will just suddenly decide to dump Trump.

Again: difficult and "statistically impossible" doesn't mean a thing in a two-party republic. It all comes down to delegates collected before the party conventions after June.

Let's take a step back. When you vote in a primary, your vote gets doled out in proportional delegates. Delegates are people elected by the parties to cast a vote -- in your absence -- on the convention floor.

That doesn't include superdelegates, the party leaders who have already dedicated their steam to a particular candidate. That can change, too, but it would take a lot to move them.

As of right now, Trump and Clinton lead in pledged delegates. Clinton has a mighty hold on supers. Trump does not.

Still, Republicans might not have a clear winner before their convention, bringing up the spectre of a mythological "contested convention." Having a contested convention means those delegates and superdelegates will decide — without your consent — who gets the nomination in a series of party leader ballots.

Most pundits said a contested convention was inevitable if Trump didn't win New York. He did. They also said it was possible if Cruz and Kasich stay in the race to the end. They are.

Count on that one being contentious.

For Democrats, the turmoil on the other side is a hellish vision of a republic gone awry. The truth is their fight is getting just as dirty.

I mentioned earlier that Sanders is staring losing right in the eyes. If he wants to seal the deal in delegates and the popular vote, he must win most of the remaining states with landslide victories.

If he can, it'll be an historic and unprecedented move to the boards. Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, said that's exactly what they'll attempt to do. If they can get the delegates, but not popular vote, they'll spend all summer long trying to flip superdelegates to their side.

It seems highly unlikely, but Weaver said it's the strategy, for now. The scope of the Sanders challenge is massive, but Shaun King of the New York Daily News wrote that Clinton might not have the delegate math needed to clinch the nod.

If that turns out to be true, we'll see not one but two contested nominations. Last time that happened was in 1920. It happened three times before that.

New York, the Big Apple, the state that John Lennon called the consciousness center of the world, should have decided the election. It didn't, and so the battle rages on.

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About Ben Solis

Ben Solis is the Managing Editor of Central Michigan Life. He has served as a city and university ...

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