Just a couple of weeks ago, Marco Rubio asked the Alaska GOP to ensure that the delegates he won would remain bound to him through the first convention ballot. I speculated that Rubio’s strategy was to deny Trump the ability to woo any of his delegates and controlling a bloc of delegates would give Rubio a say in who would be the next nominee. This strategy is coming unraveled:
The Florida senator’s strategy is hitting some turbulence, NBC News has learned, because several state parties have determined Rubio does not get to hold onto all his delegates.
Only 34 of the 172 delegates Rubio won in the primaries will be immediately up for grabs on the first ballot in Cleveland. That development is opening up a fierce competition to win these lapsed Rubio delegates, which are located in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Louisiana.
The rules vary state by state. Some are bound by law for the first ballot (e.g. Georgia and Virginia) and some, Tennessee, for the first two ballots.
Does anyone think this is going to play out differently for Donald Trump than any of the other delegate fights?
Cruz supporters are currently running for Rubio spots in Minnesota, and last weekend, Cruz won new delegates at local conventions in Oklahoma. During that effort, the Texas senator’s allies filled a Rubio slot with Robert Carter, a minister from Grove, Oklahoma who backs Cruz.
Carter said if the GOP advises him the rules allow it, “I will pledge a vote for Cruz on the first ballot,” and the senator’s aides tell MSNBC they are finding a warm reception at the grassroots level.
“We are pleased at the response that the Rubio contingents at state conventions and congressional delegate selection events are showing our campaign,” a senior Cruz adviser said.
Another Republican source close to the Cruz campaign said the team has been laying ground work to grow their delegate support from “day one.” Now, they are organizing to fill Rubio slots or win over Rubio backers, arguing, “Ted could move the country more in the direction Marco wanted to go than Trump wants to go,” the source told NBC News.
Nope. Because actual work is a foreign concept to the Trump campaign.
According to the Cruz campaign, the five delegates Rubio won in Louisiana are now firmly on board as Cruz delegates.
The nebulous area, of course, is the fate of rule 40(b). The implication is that these delegates are only unbound if Rubio is not on the first ballot. If 40(b) doesn’t survive then they would still be obligated to vote for Rubio.