BOSTON (AP) — Republicans headed to nine caucus sites across Massachusetts on Saturday to select delegates to the Republican National Convention.
Typically the election of delegates is of little interest to anyone other than party loyalists and the politically obsessed.
But the possibility that Republican front-runner Donald Trump will fail to win the nomination on a first ballot has the two remaining GOP presidential hopefuls — Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — scrambling to line up delegates who would support them on a second vote.
Republicans will elect 27 of the state’s 42 GOP delegates, three each in caucuses held in the state’s nine congressional districts.
The Trump and Kasich campaigns have released lists of preferred delegates who they believe will remain loyal in the event of a second ballot.
The Trump campaign, caught off guard by the selection of delegates in other states, has released a slate of 27 delegates and 27 alternates in Massachusetts — all loyal Trump supporters.
Kasich has released a list of 23 preferred delegates.
Emails sent to representatives of the Cruz campaign about his preferred delegates were not returned.
Trump won more than 49 percent of the GOP primary vote in Massachusetts. It was his biggest victory until New York.
That entitles him to 22 Massachusetts delegates that are bound to vote for him on the first round of voting at the convention. Eight delegates are bound to Kasich, eight are bound to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has suspended his presidential campaign, and four are bound to Cruz.
While Trump hopes to clinch the nomination on a first vote, Cruz and Kasich are trying to gather enough loyal delegates to reach the magic tally of 1,237 on a subsequent vote, when delegates can vote for whichever candidate they want.
The only confirmed delegates from Massachusetts so far are state party chair Kirsten Hughes, national committeeman Ron Kaufman and national committeewoman Chanel Prunier.
Prunier has said she plans to vote for Cruz on any subsequent ballots if Trump fails on a first ballot.
A final 12 at-large delegates will be elected by the Massachusetts Republican State Committee on May 25.
Only Republicans who were registered to vote by Feb. 10 may attend the caucuses. Anyone eligible to attend may also run to be a delegate.
The state’s top Republican — Gov. Charlie Baker — is skipping the caucuses and also won’t be attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland from July 18-21. Baker says he wants to focus on his day job.
It isn’t certain which candidate Baker prefers, although he has said he’s not willing to vote for Trump, even if he emerges as the party’s nominee. And he has reservations about Cruz.
He briefly endorsed Chris Christie before the New Jersey governor dropped out of the race.
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