Another weekend of GOP state conventions and another dominating performance by the Cruz team.
Cruz’s mastery of the delegate-selection process may be infuriating Trump and his supporters, but in truth, he appears to be the only one playing the game. But the hard fact for the Cruz camp to deal with is that for all his legerdemain with bringing delegates to support him, it may all be for naught.
Trump is likely to sweep primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware on Tuesday, giving him the lion’s share of the 172 delegates to be won. According to the RealClearPolitics delegate tracker, Trump currently stands at 845, which, added to his expected winnings on Tuesday, will probably put him over a thousand for the campaign. Trump has a decent shot to win a first-ballot nomination.
But Cruz should be proud of his people who once again out-organized and out-hustled their rivals in the Trump campaign.
Cruz won at least 65 of the 94 delegates up for grabs Saturday (he may have won more than 65, but Kentucky’s 25 delegates haven’t revealed their leanings). The Texas senator has so thoroughly dominated the fight to send loyalists to the national convention that if front-runner Donald Trump fails to clinch the nomination on the first ballot, Cruz is well-positioned to surpass him — and perhaps even snag the nomination for himself — when delegates are free in subsequent convention rounds to vote for whomever they want.
On Saturday, he nearly won 19 of 20 seats available in Maine, losing just one to a Trump backer: Gov. Paul LePage. He also won all nine delegates on the ballot in three Minnesota congressional districts, picking up support in the lone state won by Marco Rubio. Cruz also grabbed one of three delegates in South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, while the other two went to an uncommitted delegate and a supporter of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Cruz’s biggest windfall, though, came from Utah, where at least 36 of 37 national delegates will be aligned with Cruz, who crushed Trump in the state’s caucuses on March 22. Included in the Utah delegation: Sen. Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert and Reps. Mike Bishop and Mia Love. Only Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, the 37th delegate, is a wild card — he hasn’t revealed who he supports.
But Cruz’s dominance may be for nothing. Trump’s dominant victory in New York last week, along with expected victories across the Northeast on Tuesday, put him on the cusp of earning the nomination without any convention drama in Cleveland. On the first ballot, most delegates are required to vote according to the results of state primaries and caucuses, and that’s where Trump has a wide edge — 845 to Cruz’s 559.
Will Trump make good his threat to challenge individual delegates and the Colorado delegation claimed by Cruz if he has a first-ballot nomination assured? Somewhere along the way, Trump is going to have to make a peace offering to all those in the Republican Party he has spent the last several months insulting and running down.
Otherwise, along with Donald Trump, the fractured Republican Party will get slaughtered in November.