How Rubio can still win the nomination

There's still a chance that Marco Rubio could secure the Republican nomination as the U.S. presidential candidate for 2016, with John Kasich as his running mate.

My prediction, while seemingly improbable (though certainly no more so than if you had predicted Donald Trump would become the Republican front runner and discuss his manhood at a GOP debate) comes after careful consideration of the Florida senator's operations and ground game in Florida.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at a campaign stop February 26, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
J Pat Carter | Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at a campaign stop February 26, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Despite a poor showing in Tuesday's primaries and polls indicating Rubio is losing Florida, his knowledge of the Sunshine state and his grassroots support from locals could ultimately bring a surprise victory in his home state. Florida has always been an odd-duck for pollsters, given the diversity of the population, its age and a poor showing yesterday in the primaries income disparity, its opposing ideologies and nuanced community needs.

While many Floridians find Rubio's record as the leader in missed Senate votes off-putting, they are also hearing the Republican establishment scream, cry, yell and kick against the encroaching victory of "The Donald."

Furthermore, the media is reporting that significant numbers of Latinos are flocking to their local boards of election to register to vote for the first time in apparent response to the continuing assault from Trump. These newly registered voters could be un-polled and could tip the scales in Rubio's favor.

Donald Trump is openly opposed by right-wing beacons such as Fox News and the GOP establishment. Analysts believe that Trump's voter popularity has peaked.

The remaining choices are Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or John Kasich. Kasich, is seen as a harmless, likeable Republican. Still, he has no huge ground swell and his political stance beyond likability is hard to define. Ted Cruz is openly reviled by apparently anyone who has ever met him besides his wife and children, which could obviously lead to problems in a general election.

If Rubio can secure Florida, he may gain a foothold on which to leap forward and secure the nomination as the only viable establishment candidate.

With the possibility of a brokered convention - a contested convention where no clear candidate has secured the majority of delegates - Cruz and Rubio would be vying for that second spot. Cruz's unpopularity among his colleagues could be his undoing as Rubio steps into the role he has been bred for since his 2012 Republican National Convention speech proclaiming himself the GOP version of Obama.

Though this would not be the "YES WE CAN," victory either the GOP or Rubio envisioned, it would launch him into a position to unify a broken political party and bring a Latino nominee to the forefront. That could help the GOP improve its growing diversity problem thanks to years of implied anti-immigrant and minority sentiment and a campaign season of openly hostile commentary from Donald Trump.

With RNC rules that allow many states to allocate delegates proportionally, more delegates are open to align with an alternative candidate at the convention. Any primary taking place between March 1 and March 14 must allocate delegates proportionally (if Trump wins 60% of the vote, he will only secure 60 percent of the delegates.)

After March 14th, states are allowed to award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis for candidates who receive more than 50 percent of the vote. This means that Rubio is eligible to receive all of Florida's delegates if he secures the majority of the vote. The good news for Rubio is that by most accounts, he is winning the early voting in Florida.

Finally, if Kasich were able to surpass Donald Trump to win his home state of Ohio's primary on March 15th he could secure winner-take-all delegates in his home state. And Rubio will embrace the very conservative, though seemingly moderate, Kasich as his running mate.

The scenario as described above does not take the general election away from Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, but it does serve as a possible solution to help heal the Republican Party after a bloody Civil War within its ranks.

Commentary by David Mejias, a Long Island attorney specializing in family and divorce law. In 2003, Dave Mejias became the first Latino elected to the Nassau County Legislature, where he served from 2004 to 2010. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Foundation, the charitable branch of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association where he has previously served as President. He is a managing partner at Mejias, Milgrim & Alvarado where he has practiced law for 18 years. Follow him on Twitter @davemejias.

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