America’s eyes were on Wisconsin Tuesday evening as both political parties held primaries in the state, and the two underdog candidates – Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders – celebrated victories over their parties’ front-runners.
“What an incredible victory tonight,” Cruz said after his win. “And thank you to your tremendous governor, Gov. Scott walker, for his principled, passionate leadership.”
He said Wisconsin is a “turning pint,” “a rallying cry,” and Americans “have a choice, a real choice.”
“Three weeks ago, the media said Wisconsin was a perfect state for Donald Trump,” Cruz said. “So just how significant is tonight? Well just today, our campaign has raised over $2 million. … We’ve had over 1.3 million contributions.
“In the last two weeks, and in the coming days when Colorado and Wyoming finish voting, we are likely to have gained over 100 delegates on Donald Trump. … I’m more and more convinced that our campaign is going to win the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination. Either before Cleveland or at the convention in Cleveland, we will win a majority of the delegates. And together, we will beat Hillary Clinton in November.”
Cruz said, “Tonight was a bad night for Hillary Clinton. It was a bad night in the Democratic primary. And it was an even worse night for her in the Republican primary. We’re winning because we’re uniting the Republican Party.”
He continued, “Tonight, Wisconsin has lit a candle guiding the way forward. Tonight, we once again have hope for the future. Tonight is about unity. And tonight is about hope.”
Cruz promised to repeal Obamacare, stop federal regulations from killing small businesses, pass a flat tax, abolish the IRS, secure the U.S-Mexico border and end sanctuary cities. He also said Americans will “see a Supreme Court that protects their religious liberty” and Second Amendment rights.
He tweeted, “So Hillary, get ready – here we come!”
Wisconsin voters flocked to the polls, where workers reported long lines and larger-than-usual turnouts.
Cruz enjoyed a lead of about 15 points with 79 percent reporting.
His victory jeopardizes Trump’s path to 1,237 delegates before the Republican National Convention in July.
Trump didn’t offer a speech, but his campaign released the following concession statement, which directly accused the Cruz campaign of violating federal law:
“Donald J. Trump withstood the onslaught of the establishment yet again. Lyin’ Ted Cruz had the Governor of Wisconsin, many conservative talk radio show hosts, and the entire party apparatus behind him. Not only was he propelled by the anti-Trump Super PAC’s spending countless millions of dollars on false advertising against Mr. Trump, but he was coordinating ‘with his own Super PAC’s [sic] (which is illegal) who totally control him. Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet— he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump. We have total confidence that Mr. Trump will go on to win New York, where he holds a substantial lead in the polls, and beyond. Mr. Trump is the only candidate who can secure the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton, or whomever is the Democratic nominee, in order to Make America Great Again.”
Also on Tuesday evening, when questioned about what might happen at a contested convention, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told Fox News’ Sean Hannity he expects the GOP nominee to be Trump, Cruz or Kasich.
“I believe it’s going to be one of the three [running].”
Cruz faces far more difficult contests ahead in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware in coming weeks.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, all of the media commentators were saying Wisconsin was a state that I could not compete and do well,” Cruz told supporters Monday. “They were saying it was a state that was a natural state for Donald Trump. The state historically has been purple or even a blue state at times. It’s a state that is very heavily based in manufacturing, that has a lot of union members and working-class members. Supposedly, it was Donald Trump’s sweet spot, and yet I think the people of Wisconsin, they’re looking at the records of the candidates, and they recognize that Donald screams and yells a lot, but he has no solutions.”
According to exit polls published by ABC News Tuesday:
- Six in 10 Wisconsin GOP voters oppose a contested convention.
- Nearly four in 10 said they’re “scared” of what a President Trump might do while in office.
- Six in 10 are “excited” or “optimistic” about a Cruz presidency.
- Half said they want a president from “outside the political establishment.”
- More than six in 10 favor a path to legal status for illegal immigrants.
- More than four in 10 GOP voters say Cruz has that best shot at defeating Clinton. One-third said Trump has a better chance, and fewer than two in 10 favor Kasich for the job.
- More than half of GOP voters believe Trump has run the most unfair campaign. One-quarter said the same of Cruz.
- A full seven in 10 voters support proposals to temporarily ban non-U.S. Muslims from entering America.
Sanders told his supporters a Wisconsin win will give him momentum needed to take New York, a state Clinton represented in the Senate.
“[W]e are going to have a bounce going into New York State, where I think we can win,” Sanders told supporters in Janesville, Wisconsin. “If we win in New York state, between you and me – I don’t want to get Hillary Clinton any more nervous than she already is. She is already under a lot of pressure. So don’t tell her this, but we win here, we win in New York state. We are on our way to the White House.”
The GOP contest is a winner-take-most primary, meaning the winner of the statewide vote gets 18 delegates, and the remaining 24 delegates are split among winners of each of Wisconsin’s congressional districts.
Wisconsin Republican primary
42 delegates – winner take most
With 99 percent reporting:
Cruz: 48.3 percent
Trump: 35.1 percent
Kasich: 14.1 percent
Wisconsin Democrat primary
96 delegates – proportional
With 99 percent reporting:
Sanders: 56.5 percent
Clinton: 43.1 percent