More than 90 delegates were up for grabs Saturday. And Ted Cruz grabbed most of them. Again.
It was another delegate bloodbath for Donald Trump.
In Georgia. In Wyoming. In South Carolina. In Kansas. In Florida. Ted Cruz put on a clinic, mobilizing his GOP activist base to capture at least 50 delegates on Saturday while Trump came away with about a dozen in another bruising defeat that undermines his chances to become the Republican presidential nominee.
If Trump fails to clinch the nomination by the end of primary season on June 7, the nomination will likely be decided at a contested convention in July. And Cruz, after picking up scores of loyal delegates who he expects stick with him if the convention takes multiple votes to resolve, is radiating confidence about his ability to prevail in that scenario.
Days like Saturday explain why.
Local and statewide Republican party organizations around the country held about about 20 conventions and caucuses to elect national delegates, with more than 90 slots up for grabs in a shadow primary process that Trump has blasted as “rigged” against him. The contests, open only to registered Republican voters — and in some cases, only to party insiders — identify individuals to fill delegate slots earned by candidates in state primaries and caucuses. Who these delegates are is crucial: Though party rules require them to vote according to the will of their states’ voters at first, most are able to vote freely if the convention deadlocks and it requires multiple rounds of balloting to pick a nominee.
So far, Cruz has dominated these delegate selection battles, even in states Trump won handily in the primary. Though Trump won all 50 delegates in South Carolina in a Feb. 20 primary, for example, many are poised to abandon him for Cruz on a second ballot. And now, in Georgia, where Trump crushed his rivals and earned 42 of 76 delegates on primary day, dozens are set to abandon him for Cruz as soon as they can.
On Saturday, the Texas senator won 32 of 42 delegate slots available in Georgia, according to former Rep. Jack Kingston, a Cruz supporter. And John Kasich, who finished last in that primary, scored a delegate as well — state Sen. Bill Cowsert — his campaign confirmed.
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