Colorado Springs, CO -- Another day, another Colorado sweep for Senator Ted Cruz.
On Friday, local party activists elected 12 delegates in four Congressional District conventions who the campaign had put forward on its official slate, although two are technically free to vote for whomever they wish on the first ballot.
Colorado is unusual in that it selects its delegates without any direct input from voters, either through primaries or caucuses. Instead, local party members elected at local events earlier choose the delegates at conventions on the district and state level.
Cruz had already swept the previous three Congressional conventions. Another 13 delegates will be up for grabs at Saturday’s state convention, where the Texas senator is scheduled to address the crowd.
Donald Trump has effectively conceded the state, where the political lean and complicated process matches up poorly with Trump’s shaky grassroots operation. A top aide to Trump, who canceled an appearance in Colorado, has predicted a likely Cruz sweep.
Still, the Trump operation showed at least some improvement in its organization on Friday after a disastrous Thursday convention during which two of the three names on its official slate weren’t even on the ballot. In the 4th Congressional District, Trump’s slate managed to win two alternate slots. But the battle was largely over before a shot was fired, as Cruz’s campaign successfully elected many of the local delegates in caucuses on March 1 who are now choosing national delegates.
Scott Hammett, who was on the Trump slate in the 2nd Congressional District, said he never heard from the campaign until this week, when he was asked to participate in a strategy call with Sheriff Joe Arpaio ahead of the convention.
“I don’t think they’re real serious about Colorado,” Hammett said.
One hot topic that united supporters of both Trump and Cruz on Thursday: a fear that the national GOP convention in July might bypass both candidates in favor of a “white knight” from outside the race.
“You’d lose all credibility with an eleventh hour ‘savior’ candidate,” Rick Fernandez, a Cruz alternate delegate and chair of the Broomfield County GOP, told MSNBC.
A number of delegate candidates, including some who are unaffiliated with any campaign, gave speeches promising to prevent any rule changes that might dramatically swing the race towards one candidate.
“The thing that would divide our party and splinter it is if people feel [the nomination] was stolen,” RNC committeeman George Leing told participants at the CD-2 convention.
Leing told MSNBC he planned to encourage delegates at the convention to keep the process “open and transparent.”
“You don’t want rules at the last minute that seem to favor or disfavor one candidate or another,” he said.