One complication with California coming so late in the presidential primary calendar is that candidates who qualify for the ballot often drop out before the actual voting begins.
As of Wednesday, the June 7 ballot on the Republican side still had six names, including three ex-candidates.
One former contender, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who quit the race after failing to win his home state on March 15, did the honorable thing Friday and asked the secretary of state to remove his name. Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey followed suit on Tuesday.
The other Republicans who have suspended their campaigns should do the same before the 5 p.m. Friday deadline. That’s especially true of those who say they want to stop Donald Trump and have endorsed one of his rivals. Otherwise, it just seems like an exercise in vanity to see how many votes you can still get.
Yes, that means you, Carly Fiorina. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO dropped out all the way back on Feb. 10 and endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on March 9. She’s now campaigning at his side, including Wednesday in Wisconsin, which holds a key primary next Tuesday. Cruz might want to tell Fiorina that she’s not doing him any favors by keeping her name on California’s ballot.
And you, Ben Carson. He’s backing Trump, so why would he want to risk taking any votes away from the man he supposedly believes will be a great president?
Christie also is supporting Trump, while Bush endorsed Cruz. Former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia is also still on the ballot.
Even small numbers of votes for also-rans could matter in California’s primary, since almost all the 172 delegates are awarded winner-take-all in each congressional district.
To win a clear majority before the national convention in Cleveland, Trump will likely need a good chunk of California’s delegates. Conversely, to stop Trump, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich need to win some delegates here. That could be more difficult if votes are siphoned off by candidates who aren’t even running anymore.
California’s ballot is cluttered and confusing enough without non-candidates on it. This is the time to put their party first, and that means getting their name off the ballot.