The group could be pivotal
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has a clear early lead in the Republican race for unbound delegates who can vote their personal preference on the first ballot at the Cleveland convention, according to a TIME survey, presenting an obstacle for frontrunner Donald Trump if he falls just short of the 1,237 bound delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
Of the 63 unbound delegates who have already been named, 26 have told TIME or other news outlets that they are either committed to support Cruz, lean towards supporting Cruz or refuse to support Trump on the first ballot. By contrast Trump has the public support of only one delegate in North Dakota. Another delegate in American Samoa is Trump’s local campaign chair, but he declined to confirm to TIME that he will support Trump on the first ballot. Fifteen others declined to tell TIME their preference, and 15 more could not be reached for comment.
There are also five named unbound delegates from the Virgin Islands whose fate is unknown because they are in the midst of a legal battle over whether they will be able to vote at the convention. The Virgin Islands’ Republican Party chair, John Canegata, is fighting to have the original slate replaced by a different group.
The relatively few unbound delegates could become the most important Republicans in the nation if Trump arrives at the convention just short of the 1,237 bound delegates he needs to lock up the nomination on the first ballot. Only about 5% of the 2,472 delegates to the convention are unbound—the specific figure will depend on the remaining contests and even what happens on the first ballot. The rest of the delegates, who are bound, must vote on at least the first ballot for a candidate chosen through their state’s primary, caucus or convention process.
... So far, Colorado, North Dakota, Louisiana, Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa have all named unbound delegates. Pennsylvania Republicans will elect another 54 unbound delegates on Tuesday, with Cruz and Trump both circulating slates of loyalists they hope will win a spot on the convention floor. Other delegates could be unbound at the convention under individual state rules if the candidates they are committed to, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, are not ballot options in the early rounds of voting.
“We are very confident Donald Trump will become the nominee in the first ballot,” said Barry Bennett, an aide to Trump working on the frontrunner’s delegate operation. “Between pledged and uncommitted delegates we will surpass 1,237 well before the convention.”
But almost 20 unbound delegates told TIME that Trump will not be able to count on their vote. Some, such as Guam Sen. Tony Ada, said they would vote for Cruz for as many ballots as it takes. “I [feel] strongly about Ted Cruz and plan to support him all the way,” he wrote in an email. North Dakota State Rep. Ben Koppelman also said he wouldn’t vote Trump, even if he comes in almost at the magic number. “I won’t be supporting Trump as long as Cruz is in,” he said.
“[There’s] no reason to vote Trump,” said North Dakota State Rep. Bette Grande. “I’m voting for Cruz.” ...Read the full story HERE.
If you like what you see, please "Like" us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.