Ted Cruz delegate push could deny Donald Trump a second-ballot victory in Cleveland

A member of the community listens as Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a campaign event at the Jewish Center of Brighton Beach, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. AP/Mary Altaffer

A member of the community listens as Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a campaign event at the Jewish Center of Brighton Beach, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. AP/Mary Altaffer

Look for this Washington Post assessment to drive the day’s political news cycle:

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is close to ensuring that Donald Trump cannot win the GOP nomination on a second ballot at the party’s July convention in Cleveland, scooping up scores of delegates who have pledged to vote for him instead of the front-runner if given the chance.

Elle Dieal holds a sign at Liberty Plaza near the Georgia State Capitol building during a rally to support the new Clean Power Plan (CPP), Wednesday, August 5, 2015, in Atlanta. Finalized by the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, these protections will help clean up the air, reduce pollution-related respiratory illnesses, and curb the worst effects of climate disruption. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

The push by Cruz means that it is more essential than ever for Trump to clinch the nomination by winning a majority of delegates to avoid a contested and drawn-out convention fight, which Trump seems almost certain to lose.

We’re likely to see some Cruz maneuvering in Georgia on Saturday, when Republicans gather by congressional district to select 42 of the 76 delegates to Cleveland allotted to the state. By law, Trump delegates will be sworn to vote for their candidate on the first ballot. Cruz operatives will make sure as many Georgia delegates as possible will desert Trump on that second vote.

Which, no doubt, is why a certain billionaire was sweating at a CNN town hall appearance with his family on Tuesday night:

Donald Trump said Tuesday night that the political system is “stacked against me,” and accused the Republican Party of conspiring to stop him from clinching the party’s nomination.

At a special CNN town hall in New York City ahead of next Tuesday’s crucial New York primary, Trump said: “I know the rules very well, but I know it’s stacked against me by the establishment.”

That may well be true. But if there’s a conspiracy, it’s one aided and abetted by a Trump campaign that’s been dazzled and distracted by its own success. Buried deep within a Yahoo.com report is this jaw-dropping nugget:

The Cruz campaign has been organizing in California for a year. They have thousands of volunteers statewide. And an estimated 65 percent of primary participants are expected to vote early by mail — a process that begins in three weeks. “We’re going to talk to all of these people personally,” [Cruz political director Mike] Schroeder said. “We can pour calls into those empty districts.”

Also helping Cruz is the fact that the campaigns have to pick their own delegates — 169 of them, plus 169 alternates. The process of identifying six committed Cruz supporters in every single congressional district — including districts where Republicans haven’t really campaigned in decades — wasn’t easy. It took Schroeder five months. But now he’s finished — and the Trump campaign, which just hired a state political director today, is only getting started.

That’s right. The Trump campaign just hired its California political director on Tuesday. The deadline for filing delegate names is May 7.

This morning, Atlanta attorney Randy Evans, a member of the Republican National Committee, said on MSNBC that the danger for Trump comes if he finishes under 1,000 delegates by July:

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The delegate-by-delegate battle that’s rocked the Republican presidential race is also ratcheting up in the Democratic contest, where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters are targeting Democratic superdelegates in the contest with frontrunner Hillary Clinton. From the Washington Post:

The Sanders campaign says it has no connection to the efforts of outside supporters to lean on superdelegates, the party leaders and elected officials who can cast nomination votes for any candidate and are seen as increasingly pivotal in the Democrats’ unexpectedly drawn-out nominating contest.

Among those efforts is a website created last week under the name superdelegatehitlist.com, providing phone numbers and addresses for superdelegates and encouraging users to submit further contact information, presumably to help advocates pressure them. Site creator Spencer Thayer, a Chicago activist, described the goal this way in a Twitter message: “So who wants to help start . . . a new website aimed at harassing Democratic Superdelegates?”

Rome city commissioner Wendy Davis, a Georgia superdelegate who has pledged to Clinton, said she hasn’t been targeted by any calls or emails yet from Sanders supporters. But she told the Rome News-Tribune she is offended by the strategy:

Sanders’ campaign hasn’t employed a good strategy for going after superdelegates, Davis said. No one from Sanders’ campaign has even contacted her, asking for her vote. 

On the other hand, people from Clinton’s campaign staff started contacting Davis as soon as Clinton announced her decision to run for president in April 2015. 

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Earlier this morning, we offered you Gov. Nathan Deal’s reaction to the backlash in Mississippi and North Carolina, following passage in those states of “religious liberty” legislation aimed at giving legal cover to those opposed to same-sex marriage.

In Georgia, certain Republican lawmakers haven’t given up on a special summer session to override Deal’s veto of similar legislation. From an article by state Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, in the Christian Index – the official publication of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board:

… I am very disappointed that a man who, not only once, but twice, won the trust of a majority of the voters in this state, so blatantly violated that trust by refusing to sign a law that will protect them – the ordinary people who live and work in our state, those who are producers and consumers, those who contribute to making our economy strong as well. Their voices have been ignored by our governor…

The Constitution of Georgia allows for a special session of the General Assembly to be called in order to overturn the governor’s veto. For that, we would need the support of 34 Senators and 108 Representatives. This is certainly possible, as overwhelming majorities in both Houses voted for the passage of HB 757.

But it will take courage. Freedom is not free; it is costly and has come to us because of the great sacrifice of so many. Are we now willing to protect it for those who come behind us? I want my children and my grandchildren to enjoy the same freedoms that I have had in my life – freedoms for which my father fought….

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Paul Maner, who is mounting a GOP primary challenge to state Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody, has picked up an endorsement by Georgia Right to Life, which opposes all abortions – with no exceptions for rape or incest. From the press release:

“I am honored to have earned the support of Georgia Right to Life,” Maner said. “For decades, DeKalb County has lacked conservative Republican representation in the Georgia State Senate. If elected, I look forward to representing the values of the people in my community and crafting legislation that can improve our state.”

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Over at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Maria Saporta reports on the private life of Mayor Kasim Reed:

In a moment of candor, the mayor admitted at home he does not call the shots. For example, he said he wanted his daughter, Maria, to become a student in Atlanta’s public schools. But his wife was a student at the Pace Academy and went to the Suzuki School, a Montessori pre-school. So his daughter is going to the Suzuki School.

 


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