ND Draws Republican Delegate War Out of the Shadows

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 3:07 PM

While the campaigns insist they can win the nomination without a contested national convention - a last-ditch method for choosing the nominee, which allows a couple thousand delegates to vote over and over, circular by round, until someone secures majority support - the hunt for unbound delegates has taken a back seat to high-profile contests and televised town halls.

ND Draws Republican Delegate War Out of the Shadows

- The shadowy war for Republican delegates will step into the spotlight this weekend in N Dakota, where the state'south lack of a presidential meeting or primary - and a quirky regulation that leaves delegates to vote as they please in July'south national convention - lays bare each campaign'south fight to draw party insiders to their team.

While the campaigns insist they can win the nomination without a contested national convention - a last-ditch method for choosing the nominee, which allows a couple thousand delegates to vote over and over, circular by round, until someone secures majority support - the hunt for unbound delegates has taken a back seat to high-profile contests and televised town halls.

But in a sign of the tightening race in which N Dakota's twenty-eight delegates might just create a difference, the three Republican campaigns have scrambled to mobilize here, screening and beginning outreach to likely delegates. In less than a month, N Dakota'south GOP went from struggling to discover a keynote speaker for their state conference to juggling three: Sen. Ted Cruz will speak Saturday night, followed on Sun by Dr. Ben Carson speaking for Donald Trump and former Sen. Gordon Humphrey on behalf of Gov. John Kasich.

"I really didn't think we'd play this huge a role," the state party'south Executive Director Roz Leighton told MSNBC. "All of a sudden, we've all these people who wish to talk."

Republican leaders in the state said Cruz has the strongest grassroots presence here: He'd already begun reaching out to likely delegates ahead of the state convention, and his preacher father, Rafael Cruz, has been campaigning across the state this week.

Not to be outdone, Trump is sending his highest profile and hugely favorite surrogate in Carson to address the state'south convention, where the former candidate'south adviser-turned-Trump-strategist Barry Bennett told MSNBC he'll ask the state'south delegates to toss their support behind the genuine estate mogul.

Bennett said the Trump campaign is particularly keen on making sure Cruz doesn't win too many delegates.

"It'south more do or die for [Cruz]," Bennett said of N Dakota'south delegates. "We probably have ten or fifteen priorities. It's one of them."

Kasich - whose future in the race relies entirely on a contested national conference creating an opening for him - will send in former NH Sen. Humphrey to wine and dine the likely delegates. The map is to "talk to them Republican to Republican, American to American," Humphrey said, in hopes of snagging some supporters for his team.

"That'south number tiny pot of delegates when the question is 'Can Trump obtain to 1.237?' Or on the other side, 'Can the anti-Trumpers hold him from getting to 1.237?'" Humphrey told MSNBC.

Humphrey said because of who the ND delegates are - three are party leaders, while the other twenty-five are selected using a metric that prioritizes time and money donated to the party - they're likely to favor Kasich'south credentials and time in office over the Jr senator from TX and bombastic billionaire who's never held office before.

The detour to Fargo'south state conference this weekend comes just as the GOP tries to realize how contested conventions work and elaborate a strategy befitting a modern, national one. The campaigns have rapidly hired the handful of strategists who know how to work them - and it really is just a handful, as it'south been four decades since the latest time there was anything love a contested national convention - and are increasingly tapping more local, state strategists who have running contested conventions successfully in the past.

They won't have distant to see while in Fargo. ND has two contested races in the Republican nominations for state auditor and governor. In the gubernatorial contest, three candidates - a politician, the state'south top prosecutor and a businessman - will duke it out for the party'south nomination. It'south a cocktail that may well be stirred up again at the national conference in Cleveland, when businessman Trump may lock horns on the conference floor with the solicitor-general-turned-senator Cruz and longtime politician Kasich.

This article originally appeared on MSNBC. com.

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