Marco Rubio is appealing to the delegates who were pledged to support him before he suspended his presidential campaign earlier this month as part of an effort to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination.
NBC News reports that Rubio has asked party leaders in 21 American states and territories not to release their 172 delegates who were due to support him at the nominating convention in Ohio this summer.
“It is my desire at this time that the delegates allocated to me by your rules remain bound to vote for me on at least the first nominating ballot at the national convention,” Rubio wrote.
With Trump expected to fall just short of the 1,237-delegate majority needed to win the nomination outright, Rubio’s 172 could be decisive in blocking the property tycoon who many in the party fear would lead them to a crushing defeat in November.
But Rubio may not persuade all of them.
Different state parties have different rules for delegates who are pledged to support a candidate who is no longer in the race.
NBC reports that the Republican Party in Alaska has honored Rubio’s request. The five delegates the Floridian won there will still be instructed to vote for him in Cleveland.
Except it’s not just their decision. Rubio would also need the convention itself to put his name on the ballot. That would be unusual for a candidate who has already dropped out.
But then Rubio’s move is altogether unusual.
“No candidate has ever said, ‘I want to suspend — but I also want the delegates,'” one senior Republican told NBC.
Rubio suspended his bid after losing his home state of Florida to Trump earlier in March.
Even if most state parties grant Rubio’s request, he could not play kingmaker at the convention. The candidates have no official control over how their delegates vote once they are “released”. Most delegates are only bound to support their candidate on the first ballot. Beyond that, it’s unclear what will happen.
Ted Cruz, one of Trump’s remaining rivals, is reportedly working hard to make sure his loyalists are elected as delegates so they could switch to him on a second ballot.
John Kasich, the Ohio governor and third remaining candidate, is another factor. 143 delegates are currently pledged to support him.