NEW ORLEANS, April 15 (UPI) — Members of Louisiana’s Republican presidential delegation say they will remain loyal to voters’ wishes despite reports Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is quietly wooing delegates to his side in the event of a brokered convention.
Front-runner Donald Trump won the state by 4 percentage points last month, but under state party rules, he and Cruz both walked away with an even share of 18 delegates apiece. Another five were granted to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has since left the race. The final five members of the delegation are uncommitted and allowed to support any candidate they wish.
Media reports surfaced in the wake of Louisiana’s party convention that Cruz had managed to secure spots for loyalists among the uncommitted delegates, and had secured pledges that Rubio’s delegates, who are free to vote for anyone on the first ballot.
Several members of the Louisiana delegation have since come forward, saying they intend to remain neutral or committed to Trump.
It is possible Cruz would walk away with 10 more delegates to the convention than Trump on the all-important first ballot, despite Trump actually winning the state’s primary.
Trump complained loudly and threatened to sue the state party if it became clear that would be the case. Party leaders have brushed off the complaints as sour grapes.
Four of the five Rubio delegates, who are free to vote for anyone on the first ballot since their candidate dropped out of the race, signed an open letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune saying they intend to remain neutral until the convention.
Reports have also surfaced in other states that Cruz is seeking to install delegates who are bound to vote for Trump on a first ballot but who would switch to Cruz on a second ballot, when virtually all of the 2,472 delegates would be free to vote for any candidate they wish.
Louisiana GOP Executive Director Jason Dore said if any candidate loses pledged delegates on a second ballot, they only have themselves to blame for poor organizational work by the campaign.
“If someone doesn’t vote for their candidate, you can point to ‘X’ campaign for not vetting them,” Dore said.
So far, only one of the five uncommitted delegates from Louisiana has publicly backed either candidate, and that delegate said he would vote for Cruz, increasing the likelihood he could win a majority of the state’s delegation on the first ballot, despite losing the primary there.