Donald Trump's campaign is going all out to win delegates in Nevada, offering to cover transportation and lodging costs for Nevada supporters who travel to Reno in mid May to participate in delegate elections.
Trump's Nevada activities contradict his claim that he has deliberately declined to invest resources in the election of delegates to the Republican nominating convention in Cleveland because the process is "corrupt."
"With overwhelming success throughout each county, we're in a strong position going into the state convention being held in Reno on May 14th and 15th," Charles Munoz, Trump's Nevada state director, wrote in an email to the billionaire's grassroots supporters. "We'll also be announcing training's, lodging and transportation opportunities for delegates within the next couple days."
Ted Cruz, Trump's closest competitor, has run circles around the reality television star in delegate elections across the country. The Texas senator has installed loyalists on convention delegations that are prepared to vote flip to him once unbound from their obligation to support the candidate that won the caucus or primary in their state.
Cruz swept delegate elections in states like Colorado and Wyoming that elected delegates directly and are automatically bound to the Texan. And, more significantly, Cruz appears to be winning over delegates in states where Trump won primaries, including in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana and several others.
Trump explains his campaign's delegate failures by saying that the process was "rigged" against him. The New Yorker said he understood the rules, but chose not to shower money on prospective delegates to win their support.
But his offer to pay for his Nevada supporters' travel to the May 14-15 state GOP convention in Reno undercuts that claim.
"I don't want to waste millions of dollars going out to Colorado knowing the system is rigged. I don't want to waste millions of dollars going out to Wyoming, many months before, to wine and dine and essentially pay off all these people, because a lot of it's a payoff, you understand that," Trump said Saturday during an interview on Fox News. "They treat them, they take them to dinner, they get them these hotels, I mean the whole thing is a big payoff. Has nothing to do with democracy."
Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination with 744 delegates, has attacked the party's process for electing delegates to the July convention. If Trump fails to win a 1,237 majority on the first ballot, Cruz, who has 559 delegates, and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who has 144, would be able to challenge Trump for the nomination in subsequent voting.
Trump won the Feb. 23 Nevada caucuses easily, with 46 percent of the vote. That netted him 14 of the state's 31 delegates to Cleveland bound to support him on first ballot. But Nevada is among the few states where Trump's campaign appears to be relatively well organized since and positioned to post victories in delegate elections and protect his hold on the delegation.
The process in Nevada began with electing delegates in county conventions. Those winners proceed to the state convention. Pro-Cruz forces expect the senator to have a solid showing in terms of electing delegates but have conceded that the Trump team is competitive and likely to install its own share of loyalists onto the Nevada delegation.