Trump Campaign Pulls Strings to Ensure Primary Delegate Counts

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The arcane elements of the election process can be interesting (at least, I find them interesting, since I’m one of those guys who watches elections like some guys watch sports.) In a recent move involving one such arcane element, the Trump campaign is pressuring several state Republican parties to change how they award delegates from primary elections.

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is quietly pressuring states to guarantee their delegation selection process will help his chances of winning the GOP nomination in 2024 and ensure their rules don’t favor his challengers, Politico reported Friday.

The California GOP has chosen to award all of its delegates to the Republican candidate who wins over 50% of the vote in its primary, altering its earlier proposal to give a portion to the runner-up, The Associated Press reported on Monday. Trump and his allies lobbied for California’s change, and they’re aiming for similar delegation proposals in several other states while attempting to block other alterations that could assist his rivals, according to Politico.

“He who controls the rules controls the process. You control process, you win,” Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita told Politico. “We’re basically guarding our flanks. We’re stopping any monkey business if they want to do it like Cruz did in 2016.”

It’s nice to see the Trump people dealing with something besides indictments for once.

This rule change would make it easier and quicker for a front-runner with a significant polling lead to cinch the number of delegates to assure nomination; that’s precisely the position Donald Trump is in at the moment, although it’s important to note that we have not yet seen even one primary or caucus. It’s still a long way to Tipperary, but at the moment, despite all the attacks from leftist prosecutors – or maybe because of them – Trump is the man to beat.

Election 2024 Trump
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

The most recent polling with a representative sample size of likely Republican primary voters indicates that Trump is leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 44% to 26% among a crowded field, according to a late May University of California Berkeley/Los Angeles Times survey.

Along with LaCivita, Susie Wiles, Brian Jack and Clayton Henson are heading the Trump campaign’s efforts to ensure the delegate rules favor his candidacy in states like Louisiana, Massachusetts, Colorado, Idaho and Nevada, according to Politico.

Needless to say, the DeSantis campaign isn’t enthusiastic about the idea, and their reaction is to be expected, as (so far) Ron DeSantis is still a distant second in polling.

“They’re looking to rig the system in their favor,” Ken Cuccinelli, founder of Never Back Down, the super political action committee (PAC) supporting DeSantis’ White House bid, told Politico. “They’re going in and strong-arming the [GOP] committees.”

The super PAC is attempting to overcome the Trump team’s efforts and is eyeing states like Alabama and Missouri, according to Reuters. While Cuccinelli has accused Trump of trying to “rig” the election in his attempts to alter state delegation rules, LaCivita argued the super PAC is also trying to change policy to their favor, according to Politico.

“What’s so laughable about that is they were doing the same thing. ‘Smoke-filled backrooms?’” LaCivita told Politico of Cucinelli’s earlier remarks. “What the hell are they doing? … They’re just mad that they lost!”

This is a legitimate tactic. It’s playing a bit rough, but politics is and always has been a rough business, and while lately it’s been rougher than usual, it’s been a lot rougher in the past. At this juncture, getting favorable rules in place for a front-runner to quickly clinch the election is the smart play, if your guy is the front-runner. Trump is, right now, by a wide margin.

If this works – if the Trump people are successful in these rule-changes – then the path is clearer towards President Trump’s locking up the GOP nomination early, well before the convention. This would be valuable, as it allows the campaign to focus on the general (hopefully instead of endlessly re-litigating the 2020 election) and focusing all their attention on the Democrat’s nominee.

Smart money says that won’t be Joe Biden. The polling at this moment may look favorable for the incumbent, but it’s doubtful he’ll last out the process.

With this move, it looks like the Trump campaign is starting to get organized, and they’re playing for keeps. The key to success will be keeping that focus and looking to 2025, not 2020.

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