May. 11, 2016 11:48pm Tré Goins-Phillips
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may be down, but don’t count him out of the Republican presidential nomination contest just yet.
Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump is sending three advisors to the Texas convention in Dallas this weekend who will make the pitch for party unity. However, they will also be running against a Cruz operation that is still working to build a coalition of delegates the Texas senator could call on to knock Trump.
“We have a busy weekend planned,” a source familiar with the Cruz campaign told Politico.
Cruz, who suspended his campaign for the White House after losing Indiana to Trump, has since hinted that he might be jumping back in to the race for the Republican nomination if he sees a “path to victory.” He is expected to deliver a speech at the Texas convention.
Even though he has dropped out of the running, Trump’s former foe has deployed at least one paid advisor — his state director Tyler Morris — at the Texas Republican convention.
But, as it turns out, Texas isn’t the only place Cruz is attempting to compete with the billionaire businessman.
Cruz’s team remains active in eight other state conventions selecting delegates this week, in fact — Nebraska, Oklahoma, Nevada, Arkansas, Florida and Wisconsin, where a total of 389 national delegates will be selected.
If Cruz was still interested in establishing a contested convention, this weekend’s convention haul would be the senator’s best chance to do it, given that it is the largest single delegate selection weekend in the entire primary.
This comes as the Trump campaign continues to work to develop unity among Republican voters and elected officials on Capitol Hill.
The Trump campaign — they have to go unite Republicans. They’ve got to do that,” Austin Barbour, a GOP convention leader in Mississippi, which is holding its convention this weekend, said. “I think he needs to go talk to the people who are Cruz people, who are Bush people. Donald Trump’s a bigtime underdog in this race. They need to tie down Republican votes and this weekend’s a good start for them.”
One of Trump’s top delegate advisors, Ed Brookover, will be at the Mississippi convention. Alan Cobb, another Trump aide, will be at the Kansas convention Saturday. Though the state went to Cruz earlier this year, its delegation to Cleveland is likely to now be much more neutral and will include Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a prominent Trump surrogate.
And in Oklahoma, where Cruz bested Trump, the state GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard is hoping to unite the party around Trump. In fact, the theme of Oklahoma’s convention is “United We Stand.” But Pollard has since said she is all in for the New York real estate mogul, adding that she campaigned for him in March.
“I wanted to send a clear signal back in March that we support all of our candidates,” she said. “No matter who our nominee is, we would support them.”
However, the Sooner State’s convention gala will feature a keynote address from Carly Fiorina, Cruz’s former running mate. Fiorina was selected as the speaker before she was tapped as Cruz’s vice presidential candidate, but her comments have not been vetted yet.
“I have not spoken to Mrs. Fiorina about what her message will be,” Pollard said. “She knows the theme of our convention and I know, number one, that she’s a professional, she’s a lady and she is out for the best interests of the party.”
But it’s is still the Lone Star State where Cruz is putting the most stock. Former Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri said Cruz’s allies have not overtly lobbied for the senator yet, but appear to be angling to get about 24 of Cruz’s top backers into the state’s 155-member delegation.
As for Trump’s action in the state, Munisteri said his advisors have been fairly quiet.
“They’re there with olive branches,” he said. “Cruz has tremendous support in the state, so they’re not there to rub anybody’s noses in it. They’re there to introduce themselves and start working on party unity issues. They would like to get some of their delegates.”