Texas state Republican Executive Committee member Randall Dunning calls himself the “most hated man on Twitter” for boasting that he’s working to help Ted Cruz grab delegates away from Donald Trump on the second ballot at the convention in Cleveland.
But Dunning tells Breitbart News that the process of “delegate marshaling” is sophisticated, democratic, and as old as Lincoln. And more importantly: Trump just doesn’t know how to play the game.
“There is a ground game to this,” Dunning said in a wide-ranging interview. “This is a very old process in the Republican Party.”
“I have really not seen that,” Dunning said, referring to any visible effort by the Trump campaign to lock up delegates in Texas in the event of a contested convention. “I was absolutely stunned that over a hundred people in my precinct voted for Trump but the only people who even bothered to show up to the precinct caucuses were Cruz people.”
Dunning, who represents Texas Senate District 16 on the GOP’s Executive Committee, attracted the scorn of Trump supporters when he revealed on Twitter that he’s helping to pick Trump delegates in Texas who will switch over to Cruz if Trump does not reach 1,237 delegates on the first ballot.
— Randall Dunning (@DunningRandall) March 15, 2016
Trump has assembled a team to help him win delegates. That team is comprised of Ben Carson’s former campaign manager Barry Bennett, Carson strategist Jason Osborne, consultant and former RNC official Ed Brookover, and Washington super-lawyer Don McGahn of the Jones Day law firm. But the Trump effort has run into trouble, with Trump already threatening to sue over delegates in Louisiana, and Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier snapping back that “We have earned our delegates fair and square.”
Dunning foresees problems for Trump in Texas.
“There’s two elements to the whole primary season,” Dunning said. “The first is primary votes. The second is marshaling delegates. In Texas the delegates are elected out of the congressional districts. It’s like any other campaign. It’s theoretically possible that you could get an entire delegation coming out of Texas that supports Ted Cruz” on the second ballot.
“Statistically that won’t happen but there’s nothing to prevent that from happening,” Dunning added.
The March 1 primary in Texas put 155 delegates up for grabs, with 108 of them decided by the results in each congressional district. Cruz won 43.8 percent of the vote to Trump’s 26.7 percent and claimed 104 delegates to Trump’s 48 delegates on the first ballot.
But Trump can still lose those 48 delegates on the second ballot.
The Texas GOP elects delegates at congressional district caucuses in May. People are currently running for those positions. According to the state party handbook:
Selection of Congressional District Delegates to the Republican National Convention will take place within the 36 Congressional District caucuses at the May 6-8 Texas Republican State convention. Elections for a candidate’s committed delegates (based on the graduated proportional formula outlined above) are made from persons nominated from the floor at the Congressional District caucus. Elections are made by majority vote. All three delegates are elected first in separate elections, followed by three alternates.
Dunning said that Trump supporters who are new to politics are disadvantaged in delegate races by design.
“If you want to be a national delegate and you go up before the committee at any level, they say, ‘What have you done for the party?’ Well, I just got involved and went to a Donald rally. They’re like, ‘hmmm.”
“It’s just like anything else. It’s a campaign. People are sending out their resumes. It’s hard for people new to the process to become delegates.”
Dunning said that he got started in politics working for Pat Robertson, who “didn’t have a lot of rah-rah rallies, but boy did he have training” on delegate selection methods. Robertson did fairly well in the 1988 Republican primary, relatively speaking.
Dunning defends his delegate-marshaling for Cruz.
“I’m concerned by how much hate I get on Twitter,” he said. “People actually saying I’m establishment? The invective has gotten pretty high.”
“The idea that this delegate stuff is some arcane game played by the elite? It’s a process designed to prevent gridlock. Lincoln won on the third ballot. Lincoln had to hustle on the ground and his ground game is studied to this day in Republican politics. Lincoln’s organization invented the modern ground game.”