Former Florida Governor and one-time Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz on Wednesday.
Coming on the heels of a blowout win for Cruz in Utah’s Republican caucus on Tuesday, Bush’s endorsement is only the latest establishment Republican to rally behind the maverick Texas Senator.
In a written statement to CNN, Bush called Cruz “a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests."
Bush’s endorsement of Cruz comes as more GOP insiders fear the inevitability of Trump as the party’s nominee, or the breakup of the party should Trump fail to secure the necessary 1,237 delegates to win the nomination, leading to a contested convention.
For Bush, who has made no secret of his dislike for the GOP frontrunner, his endorsement of Cruz is likely more about political convenience than personal preference. The third candidate left in the race, Ohio Governor John Kasich, has no plausible path to securing 1,237 delegates before the convention.
"For the sake of our party and country, we must overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee, most likely Hillary Clinton, this fall."
Cruz called the endorsement “further evidence that Republicans are continuing to unite behind our campaign to nominate a proven conservative to defeat Hillary Clinton in November.”
Other establishment Republicans have also come out to endorse Cruz in recent days. 2012 GOP nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney endorsed Cruz in the Utah caucus on Tuesday.
Even South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, who in the past was vocal about his enmity towards Cruz, has come out in support of the Texas Senator.
Graham, who in the past said Cruz was “worse than Obama”. He once joked that Cruz was so despised by his fellow senators that if “you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”
On Tuesday, Cruz dominated the Utah caucus, winning 69% of the vote and securing all 40 delegates. Kasich came in a distant second with 17%, and Trump dead last with 14%.
In Arizona, which held a primary vote the same day, Trump fared better, winning 47% of the vote and securing all 58 delegates. Cruz came in a distant second with 25%; Kasich dead last with 10%.
Trump now has 739 delegates, or nearly 60% of the 1,237 needed to win the nomination. Cruz trails with 465. Cruz could conceivably win the nomination outright, but would have to win the overwhelming majority of the remaining delegates.
Kasich, who was shutout in both Arizona and Utah, remains at 143 delegates.