The front-runner is likely to win the primary, but his campaign has little hope of influencing who the state sends to this summer’s convention.
When Donald Trump’s campaign dispatched Joe Uddo, a former Ben Carson aide, to Delaware last week, he had a mission: twist a few arms to get Trump supporters into the state’s delegation to the national convention.
Uddo may have twisted a bit too hard: State GOP insiders say Uddo ripped their long-standing process from his very first phone call and hinted he might refer it to Trump’s high-powered law firm, Jones Day. Then, he suggested that continued resistance could lead to a nasty Trump campaign tweet about “backroom deals in Delaware,” according to three sources familiar with Uddo’s interactions.
State party leaders say they have no plans for last-minute changes to a delegate-selection process the party has been using since 1996. But the sources say the spat created bitter feelings between Delaware GOP insiders and the Trump campaign.
“One of our delegates is just a little old lady,” said one of the sources. “This is not cigar chomping, tobacco spitting guys with three piece suits. These are just normal Delawareans, hardworking, retirees.”
Uddo and the Trump campaign declined requests for comment. Trump’s Delaware chairman, Rob Arlett, also did not respond to a message seeking comment.
But Delaware was never fertile ground for Trump to cut into Ted Cruz’s advantage in recruiting friendly delegates, despite Uddo’s protests. Long-standing Delaware GOP rules forbid presidential candidates from any role in picking convention delegates — a provision designed to spare the small party from bribes by deep-pocketed presidential candidates.
“Presidential candidates shall not nominate or propose any delegates or alternate delegates,” according to the rules.
Instead, it’s the state GOP leadership that selects a slate of 13 delegates, a process they undertook in February – when about a dozen candidates were still seeking the party’s nomination. Three others, the state party chairman Charlie Copeland and two members of the Republican National Committee, are automatic delegates to the convention as well.
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