Donald Trump won the Louisiana primary on March 5, beating Ted Cruz by 3.6% or about 11,000 votes. But Ted Cruz looks to walk away with 10 more delegates than Mr. Trump. Why? Welcome to the dirty world of Republican state politics that voters aren’t supposed to see. The so-called Republican Establishment may not be very good at convincing voters to support their candidates, but they know how to manipulate the rule book to thwart the will of the people when no one is looking.
Despite Trump winning the state, he and Senator Cruz won 18 delegates each under after voting on March 5th under Louisiana’s delegate apportionment rules. This smelled a little fishy to some people at the time. But since then it has become likely that Cruz will pick up the 5 delegates that Marco Rubio won and the state’s 5 unbound delegates. So though Trump won with voters, the state GOP apparatus is set to hand Cruz 28 delegates to Trump’s 18. And Cruz supporters also seized most of Louisiana’s representation on the powerful committees that will write the rules for the Republican convention in Cleveland. The Wall St. Journal reports:
Mr. Cruz’s supporters also seized five of Louisiana’s six slots on the three powerful committees that will write the rules and platform at the Republican National Convention and mediate disputes over delegates’ eligibility this summer in Cleveland.
The little-noticed inside maneuvering that led to this outcome in Louisiana is another dramatic illustration of the inside game that could have an outsize influence on the bitter race for the GOP nomination. A similar process played out three weeks ago in Coweta County, Ga.
While Mr. Trump leads in winning primary and caucus elections, and has won more delegates, the Cruz campaign is proving superior at the arcane game of picking the people who will be the actual delegates to the convention, where they will help write the rules and ultimately choose the nominee.
The only Trump supporter who received a senior delegate appointment is Eric Skrmetta, the co-chairman of Trump’s Louisiana campaign. He was named vice chairman of the convention delegation, a mostly honorary title without any power to influence rules making at the convention. Meanwhile, Cruz supporters are crowing about their behind the scenes victories. The Daily Caller reports on another similar incident:
“Louisiana Trump supporter Kay Kellogg Katz, a former state legislator who went to every Republican Convention since 1984, said the Cruz campaign played a better delegate strategy in the state. She lost her delegate position in a 22-5 vote to Kim Fralick, a Cruz supporter with no experience in a major political campaign.”
While Republican elites and conservative pundits wring their hands, wondering about Trump’s appeal they need look no further than Louisiana for answers. Voters, especially Republican voters, expect a standard of transparency and respect for election results that GOP leaders have been unwilling to deliver. Blithely dismissing these legitimate concerns by saying, “Well, those are the rules…” is no answer and will only serve to foster the discontent tapped into by Mr. Trump.