After a critical win on his home turf, Ohio Governor John Kasich begins a new phase of his long-shot presidential campaign that his aides hope will ultimately propel him past Republican front-runner Donald Trump by triggering a rare contested convention.
Kasich's victory in Ohio's primary on Tuesday, along with the departure from the race of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, makes him the party establishment's last hope of stopping the New York billionaire businessman from winning the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 election.
Trump and his closest rival, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, are deeply unpopular among Republican insiders.
With most of the remaining states allocating delegates proportionally, Kasich’s aides believe he could prevail at a convention at which no candidate enters with a majority.
Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who has stayed neutral in this year's nominating fight, said Kasich's victory should earn him more help from party insiders.
"There are really just two options left: Either Trump gets enough delegates, or nobody does," O'Connell said. "Kasich's win in Ohio means Trump must now win roughly 60 percent of the remaining delegates before the convention. I would say we now have a 50-50 chance of a brokered convention."
O'Connell said that under Republican party rules, a candidate must receive a clear majority of primary votes overall to become the nominee.
The history of Republican nominating fights is littered with candidates who received a plurality of the votes, but not a majority, and never became the nominee.