Sophisticated, political maneuvering in Louisiana by Cruz could cost Trump

Republican U.S. presidential candidates businessman Donald Trump (L) and Senator Ted Cruz. © David Becker
Republican front-runner Donald Trump and challenger Senator Ted Cruz both won 18 delegates in the Louisiana primary, despite Trump winning the state. Political maneuvering could help Cruz pick up 10 more delegates, possibly ensuring him the nomination.

The jostling for delegates in Louisiana could have implications for the Republican Party nomination for president and affect the rules at the Republican National Convention, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported that Cruz supporters have secured five of Louisiana’s six positions on key committees that write the Republican National Convention’s rules and platform. Those committees will mediate disputes over a delegates’ eligibility.

“The rules panel will determine which candidates are eligible to be nominated for president, the platform panel will write the party’s agenda, and the credentials panel will mediate disputes about which delegates can be seated,” reported the WSJ.

Trump and Cruz both secured 18 delegates in the March 5 primary, but Trump took the state by 3.6 percent. Five delegates were awarded to Florida Senator Marco Rubio before he dropped out of the race on March 15. Those delegates are now once again free agents, and Louisiana Republicans told the Wall Street Journal they are expected to swing behind Cruz.

As of now, GOP front-runner Donald Trump has 739 delegates out of 1,237, Cruz has 465, and Ohio Governor John Kasich has 143 delegates. With 20 states left to vote, Trump has to win about 55 percent of the remaining delegates to avoid a contested convention. If Donald Trump fails to reach 1,237 delegates, he could lose what delegates he has to other candidates.

The Cruz campaign has shrewdly been picking “the people who will be the actual delegates to the convention, where they will help write the rules and ultimately choose the nominee,” according to the Journal.

“I do not know Mr. Trump, I do not know his staff people. Quite frankly, we don’t have much of a campaign in Louisiana. All we have is voters,” Kay Kellogg Katz, a Trump supporter told the WSJ, in summarizing the predicament of the Trump campaign. Katz was unsuccessful in winning a position on a key panel at the convention.

In other states, Trump supporters have missed out on the early process for becoming convention delegates, because they lack experience in the party.

Stacking the convention and its committees with supporters is critical for Cruz, because a contested convention is his only viable path to the nomination. The Texan must win 85 percent of the remaining delegates to win outright, a highly unlikely scenario with many states awarding delegates proportionally.

Ed Brookover, the Trump official leading the campaign’s delegate team, said Thursday that he wasn’t aware that the Trump campaign had been shut out of Louisiana’s committee slots.

The same jostling is happening in other states like Georgia, where Trump won decisively and was awarded 42 of the Peach State’s 76 delegates. Despite Coweta County going to Trump by 12 percentage points, Cruz’s campaign manager said 90 percent of the county’s delegates will support the senator and be a large part of the pool of Georgia delegates that go to Cleveland for the convention, according to

“A lot of Trump supporters are new,” Phoebe Hobbs, a Trump supporter at a GOP Convention in Cobb County, Georgia, told the WSJ, noting that they were unaware that they needed to be at Georgia precinct meetings last month.