Texas Sen. Ted Cruz picked up almost all of Maine's delegates during the state's Republican convention on Saturday--but Maine Gov. Paul LePage is crying foul, saying the Cruz campaign reneged on a promise to support a so-called "unity ticket" of candidates.
Of the 20 delegates from the state, Cruz supporters were selected for 19 of those slots--the 20th is LePage, who is publicly supporting GOP front-runner Donald Trump. Maine is the latest in a string of delegate victories for Cruz, who is hoping to challenge Trump for the nomination at the Republican convention in Cleveland.
"We reached a deal with Cruz's national campaign to put up a unity slate that would honor the wishes of the thousands of Mainers who voted at caucus," LePage said in a statement obtained by CNN. "But Cruz's Northeast Political Director David Sawyer lied to us and broke the deal. Sawyer stabbed us in the back, reneged on the unity slate, and betrayed the people of Maine."
LePage, who has a history of verbal embellishments, added that Cruz's campaign is "run by greedy political hooligans."
The "unity ticket" of candidates, which the Trump and Kasich campaigns agreed to, would have assured that delegate slots went to supporters of each candidate on a proportional basis--in other words, to correspond with the candidates' levels of support in the Maine caucuses back in March. That would have allocated 12 to Cruz, 9 to Trump and 2 to Kasich.
In Cleveland, Maine's delegates are all bound for the first ballot to vote based on the state's caucus results--but if the nominating process extends beyond the first ballot, they are free to switch their allegiance to whoever they like. For Cruz, who is now out of opportunities to reach the 1,237-delegate mark necessary to win the nomination outright, winning over allegiances of delegates is the only path to coming out of Cleveland with the nomination.
Cruz's campaign said LePage is only upset about the delegate slate because he's supporting Trump.
"It's no surprise Gov. LePage stands with Donald Trump, he endorsed Donald Trump," Alice Stewart, Cruz's communications director, said in a statement. "And Ted Cruz stands with the grassroots, who made our caucus victory in Maine possible. Cruz will always defend the interests of the people who elected him over the will of establishment politicians."