In a process being mirrored in delegate selection contests around the country, supporters of Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz today successfully elected delegates to the Republican National Convention who will support the Texas senator in the event that convention is contested.
Virginia will send 49 delegates to the National Convention, 33 of whom are elected at Congressional District party conventions held in each of Virginia’s 11 Congressional Districts. Today’s convention of 9th District Republicans was the first of the 11 contests, and Cruz picked up two of the three delegates elected.
The assembled delegates in Wytheville elected Cruz delegates Kyle Kilgore and Jordan Labiosa, and also elected Tucker Davis, a Trump campaign staffer. The next three highest vote recipients were elected as alternate delegates, and they include Robert Taconet (Cruz), and Flux and Tamara Neo (both Trump).
Although all of Virginia’s 49 delegates to the Republican National Convention are bound by law and by party rules to vote in proportion to the March 1 primary results, that restriction is lifted if no candidate achieves a majority on the first ballot. On the second and any subsequent ballots, the delegates may vote for the candidate of their choice, subject to RNC rules about which candidates are qualified to have their names placed in nomination. Under existing rules, it is likely only Trump and Cruz will qualify, which underscores the importance of these local battles over who will represent the party at the Cleveland convention this July.
What makes this particular contest interesting is that Trump carried the district by a wide margin in the March 1 presidential primary, besting Cruz by almost 29 percentage points. The Trump campaign, slowly awakening to the fact that who the delegates are could actually matter, has decried as unfair any results in delegate elections that do not resemble the primary results in a particular state or district. Cruz, who by and large draws significantly more support from the conservative activist base familiar with conventions and delegate elections, points to longstanding rules and procedures that any serious Republican campaign has understood from the beginning.
The battle over Virginia delegates moves next weekend to Ashburn, where the 10th District Republican Convention will be held and another three delegates elected. The Bull Elephant will be on hand for live coverage. To our knowledge, the Trump campaign has not announced a ticket in the 10th, but the Cruz effort will be led by Sen. Dick Black, TBE’s own Mick Staton, Beau Correll, and Blaine Dunn.