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Buzz Cut:
• Want a brokered convention? Start with brokered primaries
• Trump hires GOP insider to lead floor fight
• Cruz renews debate challenge
• Candidates look to rally bases with court fight
• Too many Peeps

Is the effort to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination showing signs of life or is this just rigor mortis?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a charter member of the Trump-blocking brigade, today endorsed his former rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, in the Badger State’s primary next week. This is different than other prior gubernatorial endorsements since Walker not only ran for president himself, but also saw Cruz snatch the Iowa victory Walker once coveted.

But the question of whether or not Trump wins the nomination outright rests in the hands of those individuals still running for president, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and whether they can pull their oars in the same direction.

Let’s first stipulate that running coordinated campaigns aimed at blocking Trump would have substantial downsides for both men.

For Cruz, it would be an acknowledgement that he is not in the running to win the Republican nomination outright. Practically speaking, it’s already a fact. Cruz needs 88 percent of the remaining delegates to lock it down without snatching unbound delegates or those pledged to another candidate. That’s not going to happen unless Trump exits the race. Even a temporary, conditional partnership with Kasich would deny Cruz the argument that he can win outright.

For Kasich, a pact with Cruz would deny him the chance to play his self-scripted role of healer at the convention of a broken Republican Party. If Kasich helps Cruz stop Trump, the Ohioan will do what he has mostly avoided: array himself with the #NeverTrump faction of his party. Kasich saying aloud that he was working with Cruz to deny Trump the prize would likely knock him out of the running to collect many Trump delegates in the event of a deadlocked convention.

But for both of them, not doing so makes it all but certain that Trump will win the nomination outright.

To be fair, the Cruz faction is likely right that Kasich ought to drop out and throw his enthusiastic support behind the second-place candidate for the best chance to beat Trump. But, if stopping Trump was the goal, then the same has been true of many other candidates this cycle. Jeb Bush should have quit after his Iowa drubbing (if not sooner) to back Marco Rubio. Rubio should have quit after getting shut out on March 8, ceding Florida to Trump but helping Cruz win in the other states voting on March 15.

Heck, if the most important thing was to stop Trump, Cruz himself should have quit and thrown in for Rubio after Cruz’s losses in South Carolina and Nevada.

So, given the track record of his rivals, Kasich seems highly unlikely to bow out so that the last anti-Trump standing can try to win it all. Anyone who expects so much self-denial and patriotic grace in American politics hasn’t been paying very close attention for, say, the last 219 years. And in this GOP primary cycle, which is essentially “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” but set in a wastewater treatment facility, such expectations sound downright foolish.

If Kasich, who has enough resources and support to remain, is in for the long haul, Cruz finds himself with the stronger hand for the nomination but the weaker hand in the battle between the two remaining anti-Trumps.

Put it this way: Nothing Cruz can do will decrease Kasich’s chances of being the nominee. But Kasich’s actions materially affect Cruz’s chances. In the words of William Munny, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

So can they make a deal?

There are some signs that Kasich is trimming his sails in Wisconsin, where Cruz and Trump seem to be running neck and neck. Cruz, on the other hand, may be pulling back in New Jersey, where he currently has approximately a 0.0 percent chance of winning the state’s winner-take-all primary. Kasich’s campaign is even openly discussing the idea (albeit in the context of scorn for Cruz) of coordination.

What makes even the idea of a tag-team approach possible is that Cruz and Kasich are such different candidates, hailing from the molten cores of the two dominant planets in the GOP solar system. Kasich’s appeal is with moderate, pro-business compromise-oriented blue state Republicans while Cruz’s base is in the brightest red precincts of the country where party voters prize conservatism.

As a result, it’s fairly easy to suss out which contests are best for Cruz to go it alone, which contests should be left to Kasich and in which places the two should split states into districts and focus on maximizing delegate counts. Dave Wasserman from FiveThirtyEight breaks it down in useful fashion here.

But again, will it actually happen?

Trump would certainly hope not and recent history would suggest that it won’t, but if either man expects to have the goodwill of the rest of the anti-Trump delegates come convention time, being seen as a Trump enabler isn’t the way to go.

Plus, it’s 2016 so who in the hell knows?

Rubio asks California to take his name off primary ballot - LAT: “Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has officially asked the California secretary of state to remove him from the state’s June 7 presidential primary ballot. Thus far, Rubio is the only former GOP candidate who has asked California to remove his name. Rubio made the request, in writing, to Secretary of State Alex Padilla.”

Trump hires GOP insider to lead floor fight - NYT: “Donald J. Trump, girding for a long battle over presidential delegates and a potential floor fight at the Cleveland convention, has enlisted the veteran Republican strategist Paul J. Manafort to lead his delegate-corralling efforts… Mr. Manafort, 66, is among the few political hands in either party with direct experience managing nomination fights: As a young Republican operative, he helped manage the 1976 convention floor for Gerald Ford in his showdown with Ronald Reagan, the last time Republicans entered a convention with no candidate having clinched the nomination. … Mr. Manafort has drawn attention in recent years chiefly for his work as an international political consultant, most notably as a senior adviser to [Vladimir Putin ally] former President Viktor F. Yanukovych of Ukraine, who was driven from power in 2014.”

Cruz renews debate challenge - RCP: “Ted Cruz challenged Donald Trump to a one-on-one debate at a rally in Wisconsin [Monday]. Instead of a planned town hall moderated by CNN where each Republican presidential candidate will appear separately, Cruz called for a face off with the Republican frontrunner.”

[GOP delegate count: Trump 739; Cruz 465; Kasich 143 (1,237 needed to win)]

Authoritarian regimes are on the rise globally, and they are intent on spreading throughout the Democratic world. The American Interest brings us the story: “Now that authoritarianism has ‘gone global,’ we must confront the disconcerting prospect that the most influential antidemocratic regimes are no longer content simply to contain democracy. Instead, they want to roll it back by reversing the advances dating from the democratic surge of the late 20th century. The challenge presented by regimes in Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran is being taken to an entirely new level by virtue of their projection of illiberal values and standards beyond their own national borders. Just a decade ago, few political observers could even have imagined such a development.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
National GOP nomination:
Trump 42.4 percent; Cruz 31.6 percent; Kasich 18.6 percent
National Dem nomination: Clinton 50 percent; Sanders 38.8 percent
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +11.2 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Democrats +1

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton laid out her vision Monday for the Supreme Court: an activist, liberal body that rolls back decisions of the previous decade.

But while Republicans are scared of a liberal court, there are worries on the right that GOP frontrunner Donald Trump isn’t a guaranteed improvement.  Last week, Trump looked to assuage fears that he would appoint liberal justices like his sister by promising to put out a list of all those he’d consider for the job. Trump’s list, which he said was being compiled in conjunction with the conservative Heritage Foundation, is expected this week.

While this may calm Republicans, it is the perfect talking point Clinton needs to combat losses among disaffected Democrats, like actress Susan Sarandon, who said supporting Clinton might be tough but mused that “Trump will bring the revolution” as president. A slate of Jim DeMint-approved judges from which Trump promises to make his picks might be enough to keep wistful liberal revolutionaries from ditching Clinton in the general.

Hillary PAC won’t repeat mistakes of Trump’s GOP rivals - Priorities USA isn’t wasting any time gearing up for a general election fight with Trump. Even though it already has $70 million in television ads reserved for after the conventions, the super-duper PAC is readying an additional, earlier assault. The group’s chief strategist tells Politico, “We learned that you can’t wait until the last minute to go after Trump.”

Why Bernie’s delegate strategy doesn’t really matter - Chris Cillizza explains how, despite sustaining momentum, a Sanders nomination is unlikely: “If Clinton and Sanders split every pledged delegate from here on out and she gets no more than her current 468 superdelegates, she has 2,603 delegates -- plenty to formally be the party's nominee.”

[Dem delegate count: Clinton 1712; Sanders 1004 (2,383 needed to win)]

Denver Post: “A bizarre snag in which a raccoon appeared to have gotten stuck headfirst in a Boulder tree was resolved Monday evening without violence toward either organism. The raccoon…was first spotted in a hole in a tree trunk outside the University of Colorado’s Cheyenne Arapaho freshman dormitory around 4 p.m. …[O]fficer, Christopher Reich, arrived to find the raccoon firmly lodged. Reich said that he would likely have to kill the raccoon or chop down the tree to resolve the matter himself, so he elected to leave the raccoon be, in the hopes that it would wriggle free on its own. At 6:30 p.m., witnesses to the drama confirmed that the raccoon was no longer stuck and had apparently escaped without incident.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.