Cruz Seizes on Transgender Bathroom Access

“As Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas seeks every possible edge to stop Donald Trump, he has seized on a once-obscure issue with a proven power to inflame conservatives: letting transgender women use women’s bathrooms,” the New York Times reports.

“With polls showing a narrower lead for Mr. Trump in Indiana than in the five Eastern states that he swept on Tuesday, the Cruz campaign’s private polling indicates that the bathroom issue has the power to help close the gap. Moreover, it is fresh in Indiana voters’ minds because of high-profile battles in the state in recent years over gay rights.”

GOP Lawmakers Warm to Trump

“The prospect of Donald Trump at the top of their ticket in November has led some congressional Republicans to openly forecast the end of their party. Others have been quietly critical, with leaders pushing back when Mr. Trump stirred up anti-immigrant sentiment or proclaimed that the nomination process is rigged,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“But a new attitude among some Republicans on Capitol Hill is emerging. Icy glares are starting to thaw. More Republicans are slowly beginning to express support for the candidate. And Mr. Trump’s early congressional backers, who initially faced scorn for backing the businessman, are finding themselves in a more comfortable position.”

Jon Ward: The GOP has split into Trump and Ryan wings

Swing State Insiders See Clinton Crushing Trump

Politico: “Republicans are only slightly more bullish on Trump’s prospects than Democrats: More than three-quarters of GOP insiders expect Clinton to best the Republican front-runner in a general-election contest in their respective states. Among Democrats, the belief is nearly universal: 99 percent of surveyed said will Clinton will beat Trump.”

“In three of the biggest swing states—Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida—Republicans were particularly downbeat about the prospect of a Trump-Clinton contest.”

Cruz Set to Beat Trump for Virginia Delegates

“Ted Cruz got crushed in Virginia on primary day, but even Donald Trump’s forces believe he’s about to stuff the state’s national convention delegation full of supporters anyway,” Politico reports.

“Virginia GOP insiders with knowledge of the state’s delegate selection process expect Cruz backers to overrun this Saturday’s state convention and use their numbers to guarantee that the 13 statewide delegates to the national convention lean Cruz.”

Clinton Readies for a Campaign Defined by Gender

“With the nation on the verge of a presidential election between the first woman to lead a major party and an opponent accused of misogyny, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump are digging in for a fight in which he is likely to attack her precisely because she is a woman,” the New York Times reports.

“Mrs. Clinton’s advisers say they are confident that such comments will galvanize Democrats — and infuriate nearly any woman who has ever had to work harder than a man. But they also recognize that Mr. Trump has proved adept at reading the electorate and at dominating news coverage — and that Mrs. Clinton must parry his attacks without overplaying her hand or further eroding her standing with male voters, whom she has struggled to win over in the Democratic primary.”

Republicans Reminded They Just Don’t Like Cruz

Washington Post: “For Cruz, it was just another day of brawling with leading figures from his own party — a role that has formed the cornerstone of his short political career. But for many Republicans, it crystallized an overriding problem for Cruz’s campaign: Many people simply don’t like him.”

“At a moment when he is in urgent need of a Republican army united behind him, Cruz is going into the next Tuesday’s primary here in Indiana with, at best, a platoon. The state’s Republican governor and senator are on the sidelines while Cruz is trying to shake up the race by picking Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Even as Cruz regularly talks of uniting the party, his prickly relationships with many Republicans have come back to haunt him.”

California Takes Spotlight In GOP Race

Wall Street Journal: “California’s June 7 primary is the largest prize of this year’s extended nominating contest, with 172 delegates up for grabs.”

“The last time the state figured so prominently in a Republican presidential primary was in 1964, said Mr. Brulte, when California helped Barry Goldwater beat Nelson Rockefeller to win the primary. Mr. Goldwater then lost the general election to incumbent Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson.”

New York Times: Republicans make early rush to California

GOP Elite Now Sees Trump as Inevitable

“Throughout the Republican Party, from New Hampshire to Florida to California, many leaders, operatives, donors and activists arrived this week at the conclusion they had been hoping to thwart or at least delay: Donald Trump will be their presidential nominee,” the Washington Post reports.

“An aura of inevitability is now forming around the controversial mogul. Trump smothered his opponents in six straight primaries in the Northeast and vacuumed up more delegates than even the most generous predictions foresaw. He is gaining high-profile endorsements by the day…”

“The party is at a turning point. Republican stalwarts opposed to Trump remain fearful of the damage the unconventional and unruly billionaire might inflict on the party’s down-ballot candidates in November. But many also now see him as the all-but-certain nominee and are exhausted by the prospect of a contested July convention.”

Some Sad News…

Danielle Juzan died unexpectedly last weekend. She was a writer and actor that many of us knew as “Delphine” here on Political Wire.

I didn’t personally know Danielle but her husband tells me she really enjoyed Political Wire. She left over 6,000 comments — with more than 18,000 upvotes! — and was one of the first readers to join when I started the membership. She will be missed.

Please join me in celebrating Danielle’s life during what must be a very tough time for her friends and family. And thanks to everyone who chooses to spend part of their day here.