John Kasich announced Wednesday evening that he was dropping out of the presidential race, leaving Donald Trump as the sole Republican contender and almost-certain nominee. Kasich’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after Trump’s sweeping Indiana primary victory sent shock waves through the political world and prompted Ted Cruz to abandon the race. Following Cruz’s announcement, GOP chairman Reince Priebus called Trump the presumptive nominee on Twitter and encouraged Republicans to rally behind the real estate mogul.
Unlike Cruz, Kasich never had much of a shot at becoming the GOP’s nominee. On the campaign trail, he touted positions—expanding Medicaid, supporting a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants, and more—that seemed removed from the typical attitudes of the GOP electorate. The Ohio governor won only one state primary: his own. But with Cruz out of the race, Kasich represented the GOP’s last, long-shot hope for somehow stopping Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.
Shortly after Cruz dropped out Tuesday night, Kasich’s campaign assured voters he would be staying in the game. “It’s up to us to stop Trump and unify our party in time to defeat Hillary Clinton,” Kasich’s campaign manager, Ben Hansen, wrote in an email to supporters.
But Wednesday evening, during a speech in Columbus, Ohio, Kasich changed course. He opened by thanking his family, his wife, and his campaign staff and volunteers. He recounted some of the interactions with voters he had on the campaign trail: “The people of our country changed me with the stories of their lives,” Kasich said. He ended on a somber note: “As I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith, that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life.”