Donald Trump took another major step toward the Republican nomination.

Source: Donald Trump Dominates Florida

 

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.(Photo: John Sommers II)

PALM BEACH, Fla.—Donald Trump took another huge stride toward the Republican nomination, easily winning Florida tonight and dealing perhaps a fatal blow to Marco Rubio, the state’s Republican senator.

Mr. Trump was at his palatial estate, Mar-a-Lago, to celebrate the anticipated win. He went from shocking sideshow to heavy favorite in the Sunshine State, leading Mr. Rubio in every poll, even as violence engulfed his rallies in recent weeks and his campaign manager was accused of assaulting a reporter. Florida’s Republican establishment never stood up to Mr. Trump: Gov. Rick Scott remained neutral and he won the endorsement of Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has a close relationship with the billionaire real estate developer.

Mr. Trump will walk away with all 99 of Florida’s delegates. There is still hope among anti-Trump forces that the incendiary candidate, who violates GOP orthodoxies on the economy, routinely insults Muslims and Latinos, and attracts the support of white supremacists, can be stopped at the national convention in July.

Time, however, is running out. Mr. Trump’s delegate lead is only growing and there’s no Republican candidate who is expected to surpass him in sheer number; Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a hardline conservative also hated by the establishment, is viable, but the best he or Ohio Gov. John Kasich may be able to do is keep Mr. Trump from winning a majority of delegates and contesting him at the convention. There are larger states still on the calendar, including New York and California, that could help Mr. Trump deliver the knock out blow.

Florida was once viewed as Mr. Rubio’s great hope and a chance for mainline Republicans, who had flocked to his candidacy, to derail Mr. Trump. Along with winner-take-all Ohio, the Sunshine State belonged to an equation that will have to be rewritten, or scrapped, altogether. It turned out Mr. Rubio, a first-term senator, had not cultivated deep ties in his own backyard. Republicans here grumbled that he did little for the state and spent most of his term running for president.

He failed to secure the endorsement of Jeb Bush, the former governor and presidential rival to Mr. Rubio. Mr. Bush was something to a mentor to Mr. Rubio when he was an obscure state representative, and his presidential candidacy was viewed as presumptuous in Bushworld.

Mr. Bush, who had been one of Mr. Trump’s fiercest critics, was silent as the billionaire rolled to victory.