Few people expected John Kasich to make it this far. The Ohio governor has improbably outlasted a long list of Republican rivals in his effort to win his party’s presidential nomination—and continues to run a long-shot campaign. It is now mathematically impossible for Kasich to secure the Republican nomination. Still, Kasich refuses to quit, hoping to prevail at the Republican convention in July with the argument that he’s the best candidate to unite the party and defeat Hillary Clinton.
As he hangs on, the governor is making at least some conservatives who want to see Donald Trump defeated uneasy. “I think it does hurt [Ted] Cruz’s ability to rally people against Donald Trump,” Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative website The Resurgent and a prominent anti-Trump voice on the right, lamented, commenting on Kasich’s decision to stick it out. “It’s very frustrating, but even more so because I get the sense that Kasich doesn’t care. John Kasich, I think, would be perfectly happy being a vice president to either Ted Cruz or to Donald Trump. He just clearly doesn’t care about stopping Trump the way most of the party does.”
Conservatives who fear Kasich could deal a blow to the effort to topple Trump have legitimate concerns. The Ohio governor could split the anti-Trump vote, and make it more difficult for the Republican Party to coalesce around Cruz, who has won far more delegates than Kasich, as the most viable alternative to the GOP presidential front-runner. “The evidence that we have right now is that Kasich is more hindrance than help to the Stop Trump movement,” said Josh Putnam, a political-science lecturer at the University of Georgia who closely tracks the delegate-selection process. “If we continue on the same trajectory that we’re on now with three candidates, that’s a situation where Trump is going to continue to win and get the bulk of the delegates and inch toward the nomination.”