Donald Trump 2016 Presidential candidate

Photo by Alan Clanton/Thursday Review

Trump Threatens Lawsuit Over
Louisiana Delegates

| published March 28, 2016 |

By R. Alan Clanton, Thursday Review editor

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is unhappy with Louisiana’s rules regarding the distribution of delegates after his win in the Bayou State left him with fewer delegates than those allotted to rival Ted Cruz.

Trump won the state in total by about 3.5% earlier in March, with the billionaire officially taking 124,818 votes to Cruz’s 113,949 votes (and Rubio’s 33,805, though he would drop out days later after losing in Florida). Trump and Cruz have already effectively split the bulk of the delegation right down the middle, with about 18 delegates apiece, and with no delegates being allotted to Ohio Governor John Kasich, who finished a distant fourth place with 19,355 votes. So far, so good, right?

But, under the complex rules in Louisiana governing delegate distribution, Cruz may have gained the upper hand with those delegates who have not yet been allocated official. Cruz could end up with as many as 10 additional delegates—a testament to Cruz’s people working the byzantine battle trenches more effectively in the Bayou State.

Once the math is resolved and the remaining delegates reveal themselves as supporters of one or the other candidate, Cruz—political observers close to Louisiana politics say—could walk away with up to 10 more delegates than Trump. All legit, under Louisiana guidelines and RNC caveats, but totally unfair, the front-runner says, to his candidacy and his win over Cruz. Some of the delegate Cruz will pick up come from Rubio’s camp, and a few are “unpledged,” who may break uniformly for Cruz.

Trump, as usual, does not mince his words, and he has already threatened legal action over what he sees as political robbery.

“Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be,” Trump said on Twitter on Sunday, “I won the State of Louisiana but get less delegates than Cruz. Lawsuit coming.”

According to a lengthy investigative piece in the Wall Street Journal, Cruz’s people not only out-organized Trump and Kasich at every turn, but those backing the Texas Senator also wrested control of several key rule-making committee seats within the Bayou State GOP, apparently in an effort to be able to recraft the rules in the weeks and days before the convention in Cleveland this summer. Cruz supporters will, in other words, be sitting in key positions when those complex arguments about delegate eligibility get raised in Cleveland.

Louisiana may have been the first major skirmish in what could be a long hot summer for Republicans as the party braces for the possibility of a brokered convention, something the GOP has not experienced since 1964.

Trump’s threat of legal action has arrived without details on who he plans to sue: the Republican National Committee, Ted Cruz and his campaign team, or the GOP in Louisiana.

Both Cruz and Kasich make no secret that their paths to the nomination can come only if there is a contested—or brokered—convention this summer. Cruz plans to fight tactically in every one of the remaining 20 state contests this spring, meaning he may also attempt wherever possible to use his better-organized campaign team to wrangle the best possible options for delegate distribution, even in states where trump may place first. To win the Republican nomination, a candidate must secure at least 1,237 delegate commitments. As of this writing, Trump has 739 delegates, Cruz has roughly 466. Under RNC rules, all delegates must vote as they have been pledged, at least through the first round of balloting. If no nominee is produced on the first go-round, then many delegates can change their loyalties and vote for someone else.

Many within the GOP establishment are seeking to deny Trump the ability to win on that first ballot, thus opening up the convention to other candidates.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Kasich's Ohio Victory & the Brokered Convention; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; March 17, 2016.

March 22 Primaries Extend Front-Runner Delegate Counts; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; March 23, 2016.