Following Donald Trump's dismal outcome in Wyoming -- Ted Cruz swept all 14 delegate slots at stake in the state's Republican Party convention -- the GOP front-runner's campaign appeared to falter during delegate selections in Georgia, which elected 42 of its 76 national delegates Saturday in 14 congressional district conventions across the state.
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The 3rd Congressional District, for example -- which cast 39 percent of its GOP vote for Trump in March -- will be sending three Cruz supporters to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Though two of them will be bound to Trump on the first ballot -- the other is bound to Cruz -- all three told ABC News they will vote for the Texas senator on the second ballot.
Georgia's delegate system “favored a candidate that was thorough in its planning,” said Dale Jackson, a pro-Cruz delegate elected in Georgia's 3rd Congressional District Saturday. “I think Donald Trump is great at what he does. But government and business are two totally different things. I’m concerned that he is accustomed to getting what he wants. And that’s not the way things work in government.”
Brian Jack, Trump’s national delegate management director, said, "This is a very insider-driving process, which empowers well-connected elites at the expense of the people who cast their votes during the primary." He added that the campaign is investigating “concerns of delegate suppression” in several districts.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Trump supporters believe they garnered just over a dozen delegates statewide. In one district, Trump supporters appear to have stormed out, American flag in tow, after losing their delegate fight:
Statewide, “we did better than most expected in Georgia,” Trump campaign's Jack said. “Based on the outcome of today, we’re optimistic about our prospects at the State Convention in June, where we will ensure the people of Georgia’s voice an choice for president are heard, by sending Donald J. Trump supporters to the Republican National Convention.”
In the 3rd Congressional District, however, despite protests from several Trump supporters who felt they had no voice, the nominating committee proposed a slate of entirely Cruz supporters. Though a “unity slate” -- made up of two Trump supporters and one Cruz supporter, mirroring the district’s bound delegate allocation -– was proposed from the floor, the convention ultimately elected the nominating committee’s slate.
“I would say the Cruz campaign has been very thorough in their organization,” said Katie Frost, another 3rd Congressional District pro-Cruz delegate elected today. “When you look at someone like Donald Trump, his campaign has broken all the standard rules of a political campaign, so they may not have been as well prepared to go through the long process of precinct caucuses, country conventions, district, and state. When your M.O. is to come in and do a big rally, this takes a lot more legwork.”
To those who cry foul, delegate Jackson said: “The process has been in place for decades and decades. We didn’t use any procedural maneuvers today...the convention body voted, and they chose us, knowing good and well that we would support Cruz over Trump.”
“We do feel very encouraged,” Brant Frost, Cruz’s Georgia volunteer coordinator, told ABC News. “We feel very good about our victory tonight, and we feel confident that we have picked up many delegates.”