Ted Cruz’s well-organized campaign scored him another delegate victory in Wyoming Saturday.
At the state’s GOP convention, Cruz won all 14 delegates up for grabs, giving him 23 delegates from the state, and another needed victory as he hopes to deprive Donald Trump of the Republican nomination. It was the most visible rejection of Trump in his second straight weekend of delegate upsets.
In Virginia’s 10th congressional district, Cruz supporters filled all three delegate slots, as the conservative candidate’s supporters and those loyal to Kasich rallied to infiltrate Trump’s delegates at district conventions throughout Georgia.
In South Carolina, where Trump won all 50 delegates, Cruz secured all three delegates in the 1st congressional district for a potential second ballot vote. It follows a pattern established in the Palmetto State set last week, where Cruz supporters made up the majority of delegates selected to the Cleveland convention despite Trump’s statewide win.
In Casper, Cruz was the only candidate to address the convention, where Lynne Cheney, the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, introduced him. Cruz delivered his standard stump speech, with an emphasis on his proposal to shift control of many federal lands to states and lift environmental regulations — a pitch designed to appeal to the rural Western state.
“Hillary Clinton promises that if she’s elected, she’s going to finish the task and bankrupt anyone associated with coal,” Cruz said. “I give you my word right now, we are going to lift the federal regulators back, we are going to end the war on coal.”
Trump was set to be represented by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, but the campaign announced without explanation Thursday when the convention began that she would not attend. She was replaced by Clara Powers of Wheatland, Wyo., a Trump supporter who spoke of backing Trump to ensure her grandchildren did not learn about evolution in public schools. Ohio Governor John Kasich deployed Idaho Governor Butch Otter. Cruz was the only of the three speakers to make a direct appeal to vote for his preferred slate.
In an interview with Fox and Friends Saturday, Trump conceded he was likely to lose the Wyoming contest, casting the state’s convention process as being rigged against him.
“I don’t want to waste millions of dollars going out to Wyoming many months before to wine and dine and to essentially pay off all these people, because a lot of it’s a payoff,” Trump said. “You understand that, they treat ’em, they take ’em to dinner, they get ’em hotels. I mean the whole thing’s a big payoff, has nothing to do with democracy.”
At a rally later Saturday, Trump again referenced the process. “The system is rigged,” Trump said in Syracuse, N.Y. “They gotta do something about it.”
But the state’s delegate-selection procedure, in which delegates are selected through rounds of voting at the precinct, county and statewide level, has been in place for four decades.
In recent weeks, amid setbacks in Colorado, Indiana, Wisconsin and elsewhere, Trump has sought to reorganize his campaign around securing the delegates needed to win the nomination. On Wednesday, Trump hired veteran GOP operative Rick Wiley, who previously served as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign manager and political director at the Republican National Committee, to be his national political director, joining the new delegate operation led by convention manager Paul Manafort.
In Wyoming, Cruz supporters dominated the delegates to the convention, with “Cowboys for Cruz” T-shirts and yellow “Cruzin’ Cowboys” balloons dotting the convention floor.
Trump and Marco Rubio each secured one Wyoming delegate last month at the state’s county conventions.