Donald Trump overwhelmingly won New York’s Republican primary on Tuesday to rebound from an upset loss in Wisconsin and boost his momentum in a race to seal his party’s nomination.
“It’s just incredible,” Trump said to cheering supporters in a victory speech at Trump Towers, predicting he will eventually win with more votes and capture more delegates than anyone thought in “their wildest imagination.”
Trump won 63 percent of the vote compared to 23 percent for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and 14 percent for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, according to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections.
The unofficial tally suggests that Trump met the 50-percent threshold he needed to win all three delegates in most congressional districts, which would give him most of New York’s 95 delegates. He also appeared to easily get the 50 percent of the vote statewide to win 14 at-large delegates.
“You’re going to be very proud of this country very soon,” he said, promising to build the military “bigger, better” than before.
“Nobody is going to mess with us, that’s for sure,” Trump said. He echoed many of his stump speech passages including a promise to end Obamacare and Common Core in schools.
Trump spoke for just eight minutes, but it included none of the vitriol for his opponents that has marked his campaign so far. He referred to Cruz as “Sen. Cruz” after repeatedly calling him “lyin’ Ted,” and referred to Kasich as “governor.”
“We don’t have much of a race any more,” Trump said. “Sen. Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated.”
“We are really, really rockin’ … it’s impossible to catch us,” Trump said.
Kasich, who campaigned heavily in New York, won one of his biggest vote totals since he took his state’s primary in March. Cruz, hurt by his previous comments critical of “New York values,” spent little time campaigning in New York.
The breakdown of delegates awarded under complicated new rules this year weren’t available Tuesday night.
Kasich appeared to win most of the delegates awarded to second place in congressional districts.
Hundreds of members of the press packed the lobby of Trump Tower, where 10 months ago Trump announced his campaign before a much smaller crowd that included dozens of reporters and tourists looking from the balconies. He shook hands and hugged supporters as he waded through the crowd, with Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”
The group included Suffolk County Republican Committee chairman John Jay LaValle, New York City Council Member Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island), prominent Ohio-based pastor Darrell Scott and former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.
“We’re growing, baby. We’re growing,” said Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski when asked about new hires to help Team Trump in upcoming contests.
“He’s got a lot of work to do but that’s OK,” said LaValle, who predicted all nine Suffolk County delegates would go to Trump. “He’s well ahead of his competitors and I think the math is going to work out. It’s going to be tight but it’s going to work out.”
Trump had 756 delegates going into the New York primary where 95 more delegates were at stake. Cruz had 559 going into Tuesday and Kasich had 144. A candidate needs to win 1,237 delegates to seal the nomination before the nominating convention.
In the New York campaign, Trump mined his native son status with statewide visits including rallies in Queens, where he grew up, and Manhattan, where he spent a career in the family real estate development company emblazoning his name on developing his brand.
Trump underscored his business acumen in the stops, bragging about the success of his building and his ability to create jobs and his ability to negotiate better trade deals which won’t send jobs overseas. An Associated Press exit poll on Tuesday found most Republican primary voters listed the direction of the national economy as their top concern when choosing a candidate.
Despite Trump’s popular support in New York, rules created this year by the state’s Republican leaders —some strongly opposed to Trump — limited the number of delegates the billionaire developer could win. Under the rules, Trump needed to get 50 percent or more in a congressional district to win all three delegates in that district. A win by a plurality in the three-way race would mean the winner gets two delegates and the second place finisher would get one delegate.
But Kasich said he will take his fight to the Republican national convention in Cleveland this summer. His stump speech reminds voters that he is the only Republican who out-polls Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Her Democratic opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, however, beats all of the Republicans soundly in those national polls.
“The reason I beat Hillary is because my appeal is broad, not narrow,” Kasich said Monday night at his town hall meeting in Schenectady. He explained that he is the only Republican candidate who can attract independent voters and Democrats, which the GOP will need to win the White House.
“I’m not pandering to you to get your vote,” he told about 500 voters in Schenectady. “You can’t really put me in a box.” He compared his appeal to that of former Republican President Ronald Reagan who won over Democrats and independents in 1980 over Democratic President Jimmy Carter.
Nationally, Trump maintains the lead he’s had all along, but remains under the 50 percent mark. Trump had 40 percent of support among GOP primary voters, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Monday. Cruz had 35 percent and Kasich had 24 percent in that poll.
-With Emily Ngo