By Carl Campanile and Bob Fredericks
April 20, 2016 | 2:27am
Donald Trump speaks to the crowd following victory in the New York state primary. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump scored a smashing victory in New York’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday — eclipsing even the most optimistic predictions and handing a crushing defeat to chief rival Ted Cruz.
The race was called in Trump’s favor mere seconds after the polls closed at 9 p.m.
With nearly all votes counted, Trump had 60 percent to John Kasich’s 25 percent, while Cruz limped in a badly beaten third, with 15.
The ebullient front-runner strode into the lobby of Trump Tower to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and told his giddy supporters the race was nearing the homestretch.
“We’re going to end up at a very high level and get a lot more delegates than anybody projected,” the billionaire declared, with a large American flag hanging behind his podium and red, white and blue lights bathing the lavish lobby.
Modal TriggerA Trump supporter holds a sign during Donald Trump’s victory speech.Photo: Getty Images
“So we don’t have much of a race anymore, based on what I’m seeing. Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated.”
Trump repeated his argument that the GOP nominating process is rigged and that he should get the nod if he comes into the convention with the most delegates — even without reaching the 1,237 needed to clinch the nomination.
The victory greatly boosted Trump’s odds of winning outright. He garnered 89 delegates, giving him 844 so far. Kasich got three, giving him 147, and Cruz, who has 543 delegates, got none in New York.
Exit polls showed that 7 in 10 Republican voters want to nominate the candidate with the most delegates heading into the July convention .
“We have won millions of more votes than Senator Cruz. Millions and millions more votes than Governor Kasich. We’ve won . . . close to 300 delegates more than Senator Cruz. We’re really, really rocking,” Trump said as supporters chanted his name.
“Nobody should take delegates and claim victory unless they get those delegates with voting. It’s a crooked system. It’s a system that’s rigged. And we’re going to go back to the old way. It’s called: You vote and you win.”
Trump almost swept the city, but Kasich pulled out a narrow win in Manhattan, Trump’s home base.
Returning to a favorite campaign theme, Trump told supporters, “Believe me, we are going to use our great business people to negotiate unbelievable trade deals so we bring our jobs back and we don’t let our companies go to Mexico and all of these other countries anymore. We’re going to keep the jobs here.”
While The Donald said he deserved the nomination, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus reiterated in a meeting Tuesday with House Republicans that the rules had to be followed.
“I am so pleased that such a meticulous attorney is the head of the RNC, because he is making sure that the rules are the rules — that we follow the rules,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said after the meeting.
Additional reporting by Yoav Gonen