CASPER, Wyo., April 17 (UPI) — Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz swept the Wyoming state Republican party convention Saturday, taking all 14 GOP delegate slots up for grabs in the state.
Cruz was the only candidate to make the trip to Wyoming to woo voters, racing ahead of a major snowstorm. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who had been scheduled to speak on Donald Trump’s behalf, canceled earlier.
Cruz, in Casper, told the crowd he needed votes if delegates didn’t want Trump as the Republican nominee, CNN reported.
“If you don’t want to see Donald Trump as the nominee, if you don’t want to hand the general (election) to Hillary Clinton, which is what a Trump nomination does, then I ask you to please support the men and women on this slate,” Cruz said, holding up a paper containing the names of the 14 recommended delegates.
Twelve members of that slate won, binding them to the senator on the first ballot. They have made a non-binding pledge to stick with Cruz at the national GOP convention in Cleveland in July.
The Wyoming win is another victory demonstrating how Cruz’s campaign has organized party insiders and activists to make it difficult for Trump to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination, ABC reported.
Wyoming delegates to the national convention are elected in two phases. Twelve were chosen at county conventions last month, with 14 selected Saturday in Casper. Of those 12 already selected, nine are pledged to Cruz, one to Trump, one to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and one is uncommitted.
Cruz wooed the Casper crowd speaking about the need to end the war on coal. Wyoming is the leading coal producer in the United States, producing 39 percent of all the coal mined in the country. That is three times what West Virginia produces, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“America is the Saudi Arabia of coal,” he said.
A group of Republicans seeking to send a slate of unpledged delegates to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention are proving to be another thorn in Cruz’s side. They hope to earn the state more influence on the national stage as the three remaining presidential candidates work to pull in delegates.