Trump's Feeble Delegate Operation Could Derail His Nomination

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 3:56 PM

The bulk of the state's thirty-seven delegates will be picked at a series of Congressional district conventions on Friday and a state conference on Saturday in CO Springs.

Trump's Feeble Delegate Operation Could Derail His Nomination

There'south a recurring question among the Republicans gathering in CO at state and local conventions to select delegates this week: "Where'south Donald Trump?"

CO is a scarce state where party executive select delegates without any input from a primary or meeting vote. The bulk of the state's thirty-seven delegates will be picked at a series of Congressional district conventions on Friday and a state conference on Saturday in CO Springs. Prospective delegates can running as unaffiliated free agents or pledge to back a candidate.

With the odds rising that number candidate will safe the one.237 delegates required to clinch the nomination, the race increasingly hinges on this kind of Byzantine state-by-state delegate choice process. Trump has won by distant the most pledged delegates, who are required maintain him on the first ballot. Most will be free to vote for whomever they chose after that and the candidates generally have small input into picking.

There is tiny proof Trump'south campaign is up to the task so far, however, giving Senator Ted Cruz a major opening to overtake the front-runner on the Cleveland conference floor.

CO will allow a major test of the dueling campaigns when it comes to gaming the delegate process.

Cruz'south operation is headed up by Congressman Ken Buck, his state chairman and a mainstay in Colorado'south GOP. Trump'south campaign has number official state chair and it'south not clear who'south running things. James Baker, the campaign'south initial point person for the state, was fired this week amid infightingbetween senior staff, according to a Politico report. Baker didn't reply to an email from MSNBC on Wednesday.

In an ominous sign for Trump, two CO Congressional districts already held their conventions this week and Cruz swept both events, installing six delegates pledged maintain him arrive conference time.

State representative Justin Everett, who was picked as a Cruz delegate, said the campaign kept in fixed contact with him and other candidates for delegate by phone and email. They helped draw up talking points for speeches, distributed pro-Cruz delegate slates, and briefed participating local executive to create sure they didn't fracture support.

When the conference came, Everett said they faced some resistance from supporters of OH Gov John Kasich. But what surprised him was the lack of any pushback from Trump.

"It seems love an epic fail on the Trump campaign'south part," he said. "I don't look anyone organizing."

Republicans unaffiliated with any campaign echoed his assessment, describing an active Cruz effort and a practically invisible Trump campaign.

Joy Hoffman, chairwoman of the Arapahoe County GOP and an unaffiliated alternate delegate, said Cruz "networked love there'south number tomorrow" ahead of the congressional conference and built an "extraordinary" ground game early on.

As for Trump, there was tiny operation of which to speak. "It'south rather surprising," she said.

Peg Cage, chairwoman of the Boulder County GOP, said she'd seen plenty of Cruz action ahead of Friday'south choice process and small from Trump.

"I know there are some really staunch Trump supporters, but I haven't seen any Trump slates arrive cross my desk yet," she said. "I know there are a lot of Cruz slates and a lot of the candidates for national delegate have expressed their preference for Cruz."

"18 to 1: I'll get that ratio any day of the week," Cruz boasted in his triumph speech in WI on Tuesday night.

While it'south not clear how committed those delegates are to Cruz, his supporters successfully blocked several delegates from the state GOP slate who Trump'south campaign had identified as possible supporters.

ND and CO may be naturally unfriendly states to Trump based on the primary map thus far. But strategists also look trouble for Trump in Arizona, a state where he dominated and - unlike in Colorado - enjoys support from some prominent Republicans.

Arizona'south GOP chooses its delegates through a complicated multi-step process that requires picking supportive state delegates at local assemblies who go on to select the national RNC delegates at the state convention. All of the state'south delegates will be bound to Trump initially, but they can support any candidate the wish if Trump fails to win on the first ballot. That makes locking down dependable supporters absolutely critical.

"The only campaign I look aggressively organizing is Cruz," Nathan Sproul, an Arizona-based Republican strategist, told MSNBC in an e-mail. "I did this for Romney in two thousand-twelfth and know how necessary getting the right state delegates is. As best I can tell, Cruz is sweeping most state delegate slates."

It'south not just Cruz and Kasich that Trump has to worry about either. The anti-Trump grouping Our Principles PAC, which has spent millions on ads opposing his candidacy, is increasingly devoting its focus to the delegate choice fight.

"It'south an Achilles Heel for him," Our Principles co-founder Katie Packer told NBC News. "They just don't have the organization you've to have to be the nominee.

Trump is looking forward to a friendly primary in his residence state of NY on April nineteen after losing Wisconsin, and if he makes it to 1.237 delegates before convention, all these esoteric delegate fights will be a footnote. His so-far disinterested delegate effort, though, means he'll have zero edge of error. If Trump doesn't win on the first ballot - even by one delegate - the party looks poised to have ample resources to shuffle him off the stage.

This article originally appeared on MSNBC. com.

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