Supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) routed Donald Trump's campaign — again— this weekend in Arizona, Missouri and Virginia, packing delegations to the Republican National Convention with supporters of the senator even though the New York businessman won those states.
But it might not matter if Trump keeps on course to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination before the July convention in Cleveland. He is on course to expand his delegate lead even more on Tuesday by winning the Indiana primary, a contest once seen as an easy win for Cruz.
And yet — the weekend's delegate results mean that Trump is likely to accept the Republican nomination in Cleveland in front of an audience packed with supporters of his bitter rival.
Cruz has spent the past several weekends embarrassing the businessman's campaign and personally angering the magnate at Republican meetings across the country. The senator's victories continue to demonstrate the potential shortcomings of a Trump operation still beefing up its campaign infrastructure in anticipation of a drawn-out general election fight against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
There seems to be little worry among Trump advisers.
"Right now we're focused on unifying the party," senior adviser Paul Manafort told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
Manafort, who attended the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington on Saturday, also told CBS that GOP leaders are beginning to accept that "Donald Trump will be the nominee and that that nomination will be clear, certainly by [the June primary in] California. As a result, the whole strategy of Ted Cruz and the second ballot will have been rendered not true."
But on Saturday in Mesa, Ariz., Trump supporters threatened to challenge the results of the state's GOP convention. The Trump campaign had backed a slate of delegate candidates, including former governor Jan Brewer and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Only Arpaio — known for his ardent anti-immigration stance — secured a seat as part of the state's at-large delegation.
The Grand Canyon State will have 58 delegates at the national convention — 28 representing the state and the rest selected by Republicans in the state's congressional districts.
Members of the Arizona GOP used a new online voting system to elect the 28 at-large delegates that Trump backers said was "rigged" to favor Cruz. After state party officials announced the results, State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, who leads Trump's campaign in the state, threatened to challenge the results.
"We have no idea how they're going to explain this. I have no idea how this could happen," he told reporters afterward, according to local news reports.
DeWit did not respond to requests for further comment on Sunday.
Quizzed by the same reporters on Saturday, Brewer said the party meeting "was improperly run. ... When there's a glitch, stop the process and fix the problem and you start over. It's wrong."
Arpaio told local reporters that Saturday's developments were "a continuation going on across the nation of going after Trump. ... It's sad. Trump won this state."
Trump easily won Arizona's March 22 primary, so he gets the state's 58 delegate votes no matter what on the first ballot at the July convention. If the convention continues into multiple rounds, however, at least some of those delegates could switch to Cruz.
In Virginia, Cruz supporters dominated a slate of delegates whom Republicans chose at their state convention. Ten of the 13 national delegates picked by party activists are Cruz supporters and three support Trump. The tally represents the biggest chunk up for grabs of the 49 total delegates who will represent the state at the national convention.
Despite bruising primary losses across the country, Cruz is betting that Trump will not make it to the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, and he is working to woo delegates who would be loyal to him at a brokered convention.
Cruz came in a distant third in Virginia in the March 1 primary but had enough supporters among the 2,610 party activists who filled an arena at James Madison University on Saturday to win critical delegates.
Ken Cuccinelli II, a Cruz surrogate and former Virginia attorney general, boasted that they could have picked up even more if they wanted to.
“This was an olive branch,” he said after the final vote. “If we wanted a 13-zero slate, we could have had one.”
In Missouri, Republicans met Saturday in each of the state's eight congressional districts, and Cruz supporters won a majority of the seats in six of the eight districts, according to Carl Bearden, one of Cruz's Missouri campaign chairmen.
Trump won Missouri's March 15 primary narrowly — by fewer than 2,000 votes. So the Cruz supporters elected Saturday will vote for Trump on the first round of balloting, "but not thereafter," Bearden said.
Things went more smoothly for Trump in Alaska and Massachusetts.
In Alaska, state party leaders picked a slate of 28 delegates — 12 for Cruz, 11 for Trump and five for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has dropped out of the race but was allowed to keep his delegates, for now.
The Cruz and Trump campaigns had submitted names of preferred candidates for each of their seats. Party leaders tweaked the slates for geographic, age and gender reasons, according to local reports, but neither campaign voiced strong concerns.
In Massachusetts, Republicans met in the state's nine congressional districts and elected at least 22 of Trump's 27 preferred candidates, according to local reports. He won 49 percent of the vote in the state's primary. The Bay State's 12 remaining at-large delegates will be elected at a state party meeting on May 25.
The delegate selection process continues through June, with more than half of the 2,472 people now officially chosen to travel to Cleveland for the party meetings.
Jenna Portnoy contributed to this report.