Donald Trump’s presidential campaign said Monday that it will officially challenge strategic maneuvering that could give Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas a sharp lead in the final delegate tally from the Louisiana Republican primary, despite the billionaire’s 3-point victory during the state’s election on March 5.
A group of so-called “unbound” delegates and others previously pledged to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida could rally behind Cruz, the Wall Street Journal reported last week, giving the senator up to 10 more delegates from the state than Trump will receive.
Those sorts of technical maneuvers — part of the complicated delegate-based system for nominating the party’s presidential candidate — have been the subject of intrigue amid speculation of a possible contested convention in July. Members of the GOP establishment who oppose Trump believe it may be the best and last hope to keep the billionaire from clinching the nomination.
Trump adviser Barry Bennett said during an interview with MSNBC Monday that the campaign intends to file a formal complaint with the Republican National Committee to challenge the certification of those delegates before the convention. Bennett said that he spent Monday morning with the legal team and that they are "moving forward with a complaint to decertify these delegates."
The formal challenge to the delegates would be submitted and heard by an RNC panel at a date set between the end of the primaries in June and the convention in mid-July.
“The problem we’re having here is that there was a secret meeting in Louisiana of the convention delegation, and apparently all of the invitations for our delegates must have gotten lost in the mail,” Bennett said.
Bennett appeared to be speaking about the official state convention in Louisiana, which happened this month and which reportedly included representatives from the Trump campaign.
Trump has condemned Cruz and the delegate system itself in recent days, accusing the senator on several occasions of attempting to “steal” delegates. He also threatened a lawsuit in response, though the process Bennett outlined Monday is through the RNC itself and not through the courts.
“Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz," Trump tweeted Sunday in respond to the Wall Street Journal report. "Lawsuit coming."
He made similar comments in interviews Sunday and Monday, calling the process corrupt.
“You have a guy going around trying to steal people's delegates. This is supposed to be America, a free America,” Trump said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. “This is supposed to be a system of votes where you go out, you have elections, free elections, not elections where I won. I won Louisiana and now I hear he's trying to steal delegates. You know, welcome to the Republican Party.”
Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.