Donald Trump may have won Louisiana by 3.6 percentage points, but Ted Cruz may walk away as the real winner.
Both candidates received 18 delegates in the March 5 contest, but Rubio bowing out of the race and the unbound delegate factor may end up giving Cruz 10 more delegates.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Trump and Cruz each won 18 delegates apiece based on the Louisiana results in the primary on March 5. But the five delegates awarded to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are now free agents because he ended his campaign, and Louisiana Republicans expect them to swing behind Mr. Cruz.
Meanwhile, the state’s five unbound delegates—who are free to back the candidates of their choice—also are more likely to back Mr. Cruz than Mr. Trump, according to GOP officials in the state.
More than that, however, Cruz’s supporters have also nabbed five of Louisiana’s six positions on the GOP convention’s rule-writing committees.
The second step in the process is for those delegates to decide who will represent Louisiana on the three important convention committees— rules, credentials and the party platform. To make those choices, most of Louisiana’s delegates gathered at a March 12 state convention to elect two members to each panel.
No Trump backers won any of those slots. Five of the six committee members chosen back Mr. Cruz, and the sixth is uncommitted to a presidential candidate. Louisiana is the first state to name delegates to serve on the three committees.
Those panels would become critical in a contested convention, which would take place if no candidate wins a majority of delegates on the first ballot. The rules panel will determine which candidates are eligible to be nominated for president, the platform panel will write the party’s agenda, and the credentials panel will mediate disputes about which delegates can be seated.
At this point in the race Cruz would have to win 85 percent of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination before Cleveland—a highly unlikely scenario. Thus, a contested convention becomes the only way forward for his campaign.