Amid 'New York Values,' Ted Cruz Hunts for Delegates

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Source:   —  April 08, 2016, at 2:12 PM

Indeed, few entrances could've been more fitting for the Republican presidential candidate arriving to create matzo with a groups of kids two weeks before before Passover, a holiday commemorating the Jewish people'south exodus from Egypt.

Amid 'New York Values,' Ted Cruz Hunts for Delegates

The sea of black hats and yarmulkes parted as Ted Cruz'south SUV turned into the driveway of the Chabad Neshama Middle in Brooklyn'south Brighton Beach.

Indeed, few entrances could've been more fitting for the Republican presidential candidate arriving to create matzo with a groups of kids two weeks before before Passover, a holiday commemorating the Jewish people'south exodus from Egypt.

As he stepped out of the car and into the neighborhood nicknamed "little Odessa," the roughly one hundred or so Orthodox Jews gathered exterior erupted in cheers and chants of "Jews for Cruz."

It'south a crucial slice of support on which Cruz hopes to capitalize during New York'south April nineteen primary.

To many, the effort should see love a waste of time. How could Cruz, a Southern Baptist, do well sufficient among Jewish voters, who overwhelmingly support Democrats, that he overtakes Donald Trump in Trump'south residence state?

But to team Cruz, the strategy is clear: In a state where Trump enjoys home-field advantage and is the odds-on favorite to win, rival Cruz is working to peel off as many delegates as possible.

In an every-delegate-matters primary race in which Trump'south fighting to reach a majority of delegates and rivals love Cruz are doing everything they can to hold him from that magic 1.237 number, NY has unexpectedly become a powerful battleground. The TX senator is targeting the state'south heavy Orthodox Jewish population, its most conservative districts upstate and those NY City districts with the fewest registered Republicans.

Cruz is already swimming upstream in New York, though. He made his disdain for the state quite clear back in January, running an ad against Trump that mocked his "New York values."

"He may have been trying to create an ideological attack, but instead, he attacked him for where he comes from, and that'south how New Yorkers took it," New York-based Republican strategist John McLaughlin said. "He definitely made a error attacking them - it may have been a excellent idea somebody thought about in Iowa, but it hasn't gone away."

The NY Daily News cover told Cruz to get the "F U Train" after campaigning here on Wednesday, and the state'south longtime Republican congressman Rep. Peter King slammed him, saying New Yorkers considering voting for Cruz "should have their head examined."

Still, the state'south delegate allocation rules and quirky congressional districts may work in Cruz'south favor.

"There'south parts of NYC where there'south virtually number Republicans voting. By congressional districts, you can choose off a delegate with 2.000 votes," Republican strategist Susan Del Percio of NY told MSNBC, noting that New York's eighth Congressional District — where Brighton Shore is — is in a district with just twenty-seven.000 registered Republican voters.

Cruz'south campaign strategy signals his interest in these sparsely conservative districts. He campaigned on Wednesday in the Bronx, where there'south just 17.000 Republicans in the state's fifteenth District, and after making matzo, Cruz headed to meet with Brooklyn business owners at a Marriott close the Brooklyn Bridge. That'south in the state's seventh District, which has 19.000 registered Republicans.

Low turnout is typical in the Empire State'south Republican primaries. While this year'south near race will surely obtain voters to the polls, the state'south primary is unusually early this year. Strategists predict that turnout could be anywhere from ten to thirty percent, meaning that thousands or maybe even hundreds of Republican voters could determine these delegates' fate.

NY doles out its delegates proportionally: A candidate who wins a majority of the vote earns all three of that district'south delegates. It'south a key threshold for all the candidates - if the winner gets under fifty % of the vote, the second-place candidate earns a delegate too.

"Even though it'south considered Trump's, the threshold to obtain delegates is fifty percent," McLaughlin said. If Trump "doesn't get fifty % in the twenty-seven congressional districts, though he may win, he'll only gets two delegates."

The third delegate? It'll go to Cruz if he can arrive in second in those districts.

Meanwhile, Trump has cleared his schedule to focus on his residence state of New York.

"It'south nearly as if he'south admitting that if he doesn't obtain sufficient delegates in New York, it'south going to be an open convention. That'south why he'south putting a priority on New York - he'south trying to seal the deal. He knows if he can't sweep it, it'south going to be an issue," Del Percio said.

A Trump aide told NBC News that while the front-runner currently needs to reach a high bar of fifty-eight % of all the delegates going forward to reach a majority, "after we win New York, that no drops to fifty-two percent. And Ted Cruz'south no goes up to nearly mathematically impossible."

But Cruz is doing everything he can to thwart Trump'south path to the nomination.

"We're reaching out to the community — obviously the Jewish Orthodox community is really necessary here," said Catherine Frazier, Cruz'south press secretary, when asked to elaborate on the campaign'south outreach efforts in New York. "We have a congressional district chair in every district in NY and people here on the ground organizing, working, making connections every day."

Since he arrived in the Senate, Cruz has been aggressively courting the support of Jewish voters, particularly those who are Orthodox and distant more conservative than the rest of the Democratic-leaning demographic. At a two thousand fourteen dinner for In Defense of Christians, a grouping that raises awareness about persecuted Christians in the Center East, Cruz walked off the stage after the crowd started booing his pronouncement that Christians have number greater ally than Israel.

"If you'll not stand with Israel, then I won't stand with you," Cruz said.

Rabbi Zev Reichman, who came in from Englewood, New Jersey, with his son to look Cruz at the Chabad Neshama Middle Thursday, remembers that moment as a turning point in Cruz'south relationship with the Jews.

"For the Jewish community, that showed that he gets it," Reichman said. "He loves freedom and freedom-loving people, and the Jewish community loves him in return."

Though Orthodox Jews create up only ten % of all American Jews, according to a two thousand thirteen Pew survey, they account for a larger share of the Jewish pop in New York. In two thousand-eleventh, USA-Federation of NY found that the fraction of NY Jews who identify as Orthodox increased from 27 % in two thousand-second to thirty-two % nine years later. Most Orthodox Jews are Republican, the Pew survey found, presenting an necessary opportunity for Cruz to choose up GOP delegates in a primary state where they're awarded proportionally by congressional district.

"I presume portion of why he'south doing this is he'south hunting for delegates," said Nathan Diament, head of the Orthodox Union, of Cruz'south matzo-making excursion. "He could choose up a few delegates in Brooklyn if he runs in key areas. The Orthodox community and Russian immigrant community in Brighton Shore are areas that'd be ripe for him to do that."

Compared to other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Brighton Beach isn't particularly Orthodox. But watching Cruz whoop "holy matzo" as he described the signature holes in the unleavened bread or don a ruddy yarmulke emblazoned with "Cruz two thousand sixteen," it was clear whom he'south courting.

Exterior the Cabad Neshama Center, many of the Orthodox Jews gathered in front said they liked Cruz'south positions on Israel, ISIS and the Constitution.

"He'south a principles guy," said Moshe Lebowitz of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

"I believe he's genuine values - powerful family values, powerful ethical values," said Daniel Kestenbaum of Borough Park, Brooklyn. "I was very impressed how he stood by Israel."

Many were anxious about the alternatives.

"I think he'south telling the truth," said Isaac Grazi, who waited for Cruz with his wife and four kids. "That'south more than I can declare for the other guys who are left."

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