Ted Cruz’s con­ven­tion-floor plan

He’s mak­ing sure his loy­al­ists have a say at the na­tional con­ven­tion “They’ve got a big coali­tion, and they’re or­ga­nized”

Bloomberg Businessweek (Europe) - - NEWS - −Sasha Issen­berg, with Steven Yac­cino Edited by Al­li­son Hoff­man Bloomberg.com

While Ted Cruz was cam­paign­ing in Mis­souri be­fore the state’s March 15 pri­mary, his staffers were in Iowa to wring an­other vic­tory out of the state that gave him the first win of the pri­mary sea­son. Del­e­gates elected in each of Iowa’s 1,681 precincts gath­ered on March 12 to be­gin the process of de­cid­ing who will rep­re­sent the state at the na­tional GOP con­ven­tion in July. The Cruz team’s goal? To make sure its loy­al­ists get to Cleve­land, where they can be po­si­tioned to help their man take the nom­i­na­tion in a floor fight if front-run­ner Don­ald Trump falls short of the 1,237 del­e­gates he’d need to win on the first bal­lot. “We’re mak­ing re­source al­lo­ca­tions based upon stop­ping Don­ald Trump,” says Cruz cam­paign man­ager Jeff Roe.

Fol­low­ing a strat­egy used in 2012 by Ron Paul, the Cruz cam­paign en­cour­aged its sup­port­ers to stay late the night of the Feb. 1 cau­cuses to elect the precinct del­e­gates who then voted in the county con­ven­tions. The next step in­volves or­ga­niz­ing those precinct rep­re­sen­ta­tives to back the se­lec­tion of Cruz-friendly del­e­gates at county and state GOP con­ven­tions. Del­e­gates cho­sen by each of the 99 county Repub­li­can or­ga­ni­za­tions will vote at the con­gres­sional district and state lev­els to pick the na­tional con­ven­tion del­e­gates who will ac­tu­ally nom­i­nate the GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

At Cruz’s Hous­ton head­quar­ters, a six-per­son team over­seen by political op­er­a­tives, lawyers, and data an­a­lysts fig­ures out which lo­cal party ac­tivists to tar­get. Each state party has its own rules for del­e­gate se­lec­tion, but peo­ple run­ning for del­e­gate slots typ­i­cally mount e-mail cam­paigns and give speeches at county and state con­ven­tions. “We make sure that all of the peo­ple who were whipped up lead­ing up to the cau­cuses are ready,” says Roe.

At the na­tional con­ven­tion, a frac­tion of the 2,472 del­e­gates will be free to pick the can­di­date of their choice on the first bal­lot, re­gard­less of their state pri­mary re­sults. About three-quar­ters can do so if there are sub­se­quent votes. Some states, such as Alabama, re­quire na­tional con­ven­tion del­e­gates to sup­port who­ever won the pop­u­lar vote through­out the nom­i­nat­ing process. Iowa, where Trump and Marco Ru­bio each won seven del­e­gates to Cruz’s eight, is among those that al­low na­tional del­e­gates to vote for whomever they want if no one wins the nom­i­na­tion on the first na­tional con­ven­tion bal­lot. So is Ge­or­gia, which holds its county con­ven­tions on March 19.

Cruz’s in­vest­ment in putting his loy­al­ists in place now may help him cir­cum­vent the need to scram­ble if there’s a floor fight in July. “Of any of the cam­paigns, the Ted Cruz peo­ple are the best-po­si­tioned,” says Iowa Repub­li­can op­er­a­tive Grant Young. “They’ve got a big coali­tion, and they’re or­ga­nized.” The bot­tom line Cruz is mov­ing to en­sure a ma­jor­ity of the 2,472 del­e­gates at the GOP na­tional con­ven­tion would back him in a floor fight.

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