Cruz awarded thirteen pledged delegates as shadowy battle turns to CO

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 8:58 AM

Ted Cruz once again having the edge. While Donald Trump still holds a wide delegate lead in the GOP presidential primary race, his Achilles heel has been a perceived weakness in his ground game.

Cruz awarded thirteen pledged delegates as shadowy battle turns to CO

The shadow battle for Republican conference delegates turned to CO Saturday, where a days-long choice process culminated in TX Sen. Ted Cruz once again having the edge.

While Donald Trump still holds a wide delegate lead in the GOP presidential primary race, his Achilles heel has been a perceived weakness in his ground game. Seeking to capitalize on this, Cruz has outmaneuvered Trump lately in the behind-the-scenes battle for delegates in places that don't appoint them through traditional primaries or caucuses.

Enter states love N Dakota, and now Colorado.

All thirteen of the delegates in play on Saturday have been pledged to Cruz. This means that all of the delegates elected here today are committed to Cruz on the first ballot at the conference in Cleveland.

Seven "alternate" delegates each pledged themselves to Cruz and rival Trump.

Both ND and CO eschewed traditional primary elections and instead held conventions -- where delegates not necessarily bound to any candidate are selected. Cruz saw this as an opportunity besides to obtain allies elected to the slate, banking on their support in the event of an open convention.

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The candidate, after picking up more likely delegate allies than Trump in latest weekend's ND convention, has been on a roll in Colorado.

Thirty-four delegates total are at stake in the Centennial State'south conference process.

In Colorado, delegates can pledge themselves to a candidate or running unbound.

“His team has been masterful in being able to utilize their influence and power … to draw the delegates in,” Jeanne Zaino, Prof of political science and international studies at Iona College, told FoxNews. com LIVE.

Trump has been trying to beef up his team'south delegate expertise, recently hiring conference veteran Paul Manafort to organize and implement his conference push.

While Trump isn't scheduled to show up in Colorado, the campaign recently replaced their state director, and their new operative on the ground, Patrick Davis, told Breitbart News they're distributing Trump slates and "talking with conference delegates face to face [and] changing minds."

But Cruz will show up in person, while OH Gov. John Kasich has dispatched former NH Sen. John E. Sununu.

“We’ve seen very small sign of Donald Trump, and a lot more Kasich stickers than Donald Trump stickers,” Andrew Boucher, a chief conference strategist for John Kasich, told FoxNews. com.

Cruz’s in-person appearance is portion of a wider strategy to dominate the state’s nominating process. CO Republican operatives declare that, just by winning the local gatherings, Cruz could lock down a majority of the thirty-four delegates up for grabs, even before Saturday's convention.

"Cruz has the large upper hand here," Ryan Lynch, a Colorado-based Republican told The Associated Press. "They're the only ones really organized."

Although the thirty-four delegates up for grabs may seem negligible compared with the ninety-five in NY and one hundred seventy-two in California -- both upcoming primary contests -- strategists point out that every delegate Cruz gets is one more step toward holding Trump below the required 1.237 delegates in the event of a contested convention.

“While Trump is leading in several upcoming states like NY and Pennsylvania, Cruz is pulling out all the stops with strategies to capture delegates in order to obtain to a contested convention,” Ron Bonjean, an unaffiliated Republican strategist, told FoxNews. com. “Every delegate that's picked off in places love CO is a win for Cruz and makes it harder for Trump to be the nominee.”

Kasich’s team is also taking a long-view approach, planting the seeds with unbound delegates that the OH Gov could be the best choice at the conference in Cleveland in July.

“We are actively reaching out them. We're planting the seeds,” Boucher said. “It’s a long process.”

Trump to date has seven hundred forty-three delegates, while Cruz has five hundred twenty and Kasich has one hundred forty-three. Cruz was boosted by his Tuesday win in the WI primary, though Trump is favored to win the following bout in New York.

FoxNews. com'south Adam Shaw and Fox News' Serafin Gomez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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