Mich.'s Kasich and Trump delegates block Cruz's camp

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Ohio Gov. John Kasich got fewer votes than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the state’s presidential primary last month, but his Michigan delegation may have more influence at the national convention than Cruz’s camp after forming an alliance with Donald Trump’s campaign.

Kasich’s delegates teamed up Saturday with supporters of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump to deny Cruz’s Michigan delegates any seats on the four committees that will decide the parameters of the Republican National Convention in July.

Michigan’s 59 national convention delegates met Saturday after the conclusion of the Michigan Republican Party’s state convention to elect eight representatives to four powerful committees that decide voting credentials, presidential candidate nominating rules, the party’s platform and convention operations.

Each state or territory gets two representatives on the committees — one man and one woman — at the July 18-21 convention in Cleveland.

Trump’s campaign was represented by his 25 delegates, while Cruz and Kasich had 17 delegates apiece, based on how the nominating delegates were awarded in the March 8 primary.

All three campaigns are in a heated battled for delegates and influence at the national convention as it becomes more likely that no candidate will win the minimum 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the GOP presidential nomination outright.

Saul Anuzis, a co-chair of Cruz’s Michigan campaign, said his team worked out a deal with the Kasich campaign before the delegate meeting to neutralize the Trump delegation’s advantage.

“We had agreed with the Kasich people to support one another’s delegates on the committee because Trump had the ability to take all of the seats,” Anuzis said.

The Kasich delegation’s decision to team up with Trump’s supporters was “completely unannounced,” Anuzis said.

“We got nailed as we came into the meeting,” Anuzis told The Detroit News. “We clearly got double crossed.”

With Trump and Kasich’s people in cahoots, five of the eight committee seats went to Trump delegates, with Kasich’s delegates taking the remaining three seats.

“It was a very good day, a very good weekend, in Michigan for the Donald Trump campaign,” said Scott Hagerstrom, state director of Trump’s Michigan campaign.

Kasich campaign representatives said Saturday the alliance with the Trump campaign was in response to Cruz’s people trying to pick off other candidates’ delegate seats during Friday’s congressional district caucuses.

“Cruz leadership broke word in Michigan, got greedy & tried 2 screw everyone. Lost all. Rule: pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. #Cleveland,” Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, wrote Saturday on Twitter.

Anuzis speculated Kasich is buttering up to Trump, who has a 211 delegate advantage over Cruz.

“I think we’re seeing the first signs of Kasich trying to pander to Trump and audition for vice president,” said Anuzis, a former Michigan Republican Party chairman.

Hagerstrom said the Trump and Kasich delegations aligned in the interest of putting “quality people” on the committees.

Michigan’s 59-member GOP delegation elected the following Republican National Convention committee members:

Platform Committee

■ Sen. Joe Hune, at-large Trump delegate

■ Meshawn Maddock, 11th Congressional District Trump delegate

Credentials Committee

■ Chuck Yob, at-large Kasich delegate

■ Mary Balkema, at-large Trump delegate

Rules Committee

■ Matt Hall, 3rd Congressional District Trump delegate

■ Judi Schwalbach, 1st Congressional District Kasich delegate

Committee on Permanent Organization

■ Scott Hagerstrom, 8th Congressional District Trump delegate

■ Yavonne Whitbeck, 8th Congressional District Kasich delegate

Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and an at-large Trump delegate, will service as chair of the Michigan delegation at the national convention.


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Twitter: @ChadLivengood