This has become a traumatic election cycle for pillars of the Republican Party.
They're now seeing the Donald Trump Express as a potential runaway to the GOP nomination.
And some San Diegans are wondering if it’s too late to be stopped.
"If Trump continues on his course of getting more delegates than any other candidate,” said Republican political consultant Ryan Clumpner, “it is going to fracture the Republican Party in a way that we have not seen in the past hundred years."
Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, offers this carefully worded statement about Trump’s suitability as the GOP nominee: "Republican voters are looking for someone with the right temperament and conservative principles to lead our party."
There’s a growing school of thought the Grand Poobahs of the Grand Old Party let Trump gain too much momentum, consoling themselves with the fact that he hadn't garnered votes more than 10 percent of the eligible electorate in any of the four state primaries and caucuses.
Said Santee resident Alara Chilton, in an interview on Super Tuesday: “I think the Republican Party is seriously underestimating his ability to connect with voters.”
Now the possibility of Trump having a lion's share of delegates this early in the campaign is looming large – as well as the prospect of a contested party nominating convention in Cleveland.
“When things are starting to hit the fan, it’s like ‘Oh, now I want to get serious,’” said National City resident Kristina Bethea, “and they should have gotten serious when he ran for president right from the get-go.”
As for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Democratic strategists are said to be enjoying the spectacle of those two rivals being reduced to afterthoughts, setting up the "blue" side of the ledger for a predictable win in November -- assuming Trump's nomination is a foregone conclusion.
”Unless Trump quits, they’re kind of – pardon my French – messed up,” Fallbrook resident Joy DeMetriou told NBC 7. “What they didn’t do, they didn’t attack Trump as who he is.”
Republican leaders also are fretting about Trump's potential "down-ballot" impact on gubernatorial, senatorial, state legislative and local GOP candidates if he's the nominee.
“The real concern is that Trump is so disconnected from what Republicans in San Diego look like,” said Clumpner. “The question will be, will local candidates be able to distance themselves from the national scene sufficiently?”