COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Sen. Ted Cruz corralled the support of all 34 of Colorado’s elected Republican National Convention delegates at the conclusion of the state’s assembly on Saturday.
Cruz shut out Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the state’s delegate selection process, which was spread across several days. Four of Cruz’s delegates listed themselves as unpledged, though they said they supported Cruz and were part of the candidate’s slate.
Trump managed to score nine of the 34 alternate delegates. The party chairman, committeeman and committeewoman round out the delegation, but remain unpledged until the first round of voting. The results make it harder for Trump to reach the delegate count needed to clinch the Republican nomination before July’s convention.
In addition to presidential politics, retired Air Force officer Darryl Glenn emerged from the convention as the only candidate of seven nominated for the GOP primary ballot for U.S. Senate. Another four candidates could make the June 28 ballot if their petition signatures are ruled valid.
Cruz fired up the crowd with a 20-minute talk, extolling the election of 21 congressional district delegates who support him and urging the nearly 4,000 state assembly delegates to elect 13 more, which they did.
“If we continue to stand here united, we are going to win this Republican election,” Cruz said. “If we continue to stand united, we are going to win the general election, we’re going to win the state of Colorado, we are going to beat Hillary Clinton and we are going to turn this country around.”
It was the first time a presidential candidate addressed the Colorado GOP assembly since Ronald Reagan spoke in 1976.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who represents the 4th Congressional District, led Cruz’s campaign in Colorado, introduced him and was the top vote-getter to join Colorado’s delegation to Cleveland. Buck often was introduced over the weekend as “the most conservative congressman in America.”
Buck played down talk of hoping for an open convention that would aim to defeat Trump on the first round of voting.
“This is about getting as many delegates as possible to go to the convention in Cleveland and get the nomination for Ted Cruz,” he said.
Colorado volunteers worked for months to line up support for the March 1 caucus; the actual delegates were chosen through congressional and state assemblies held over the past few days, Buck said.
“It’s been very well-organized,” he said. “It has been a grassroots effort. It has not been directed by the campaign in Texas.”
Senate candidate Glenn drew the second most enthusiastic response of the day with a fiery speech that likely sealed his victory. And he overwhelmed the presumed favorite, state Sen. Tim Neville.
Glenn, now an El Paso county commissioner, received several standing ovations during his speech, including when he declared that “all lives matter,” a reference to the “black lives matter” movement. Glenn is one of three black men who were trying to make the primary ballot.
“I’m tired of people saying we need to reach across the aisle,” Glenn said. “We need to step up and lead, ladies and gentlemen.”
Delegate Douglas Robinson of Englewood said he came to the assembly undecided on the U.S. Senate race, but Glenn persuaded him.
“He just absolutely killed it with his speech,” Robinson said. “He just really was very powerful.”
GOP Party Chairman Steve House said Glenn’s win was somewhat surprising. But House said Glenn has been campaigning longer than any other GOP Senate candidate, visiting Republicans all around the state to garner support.
“It’s going to be a real interesting primary with him and the other guys who get in,” House said.
The Colorado results came after two days of state and congressional assemblies that bordered on chaotic. On Friday, several hundred people met outside in a hotel courtyard to hear speeches and select three delegates to the Cleveland convention because meetings inside were running late.
Delegates complained about omissions from ballots and balloting closing before nominees had a chance to speak. Melanie Sturm, of Aspen, was in line waiting to speak and didn’t get to cast a ballot in the 3rd Congressional District on Friday. Still, she won an RNC slot as a Cruz delegate.
On Saturday, unpledged delegates and former GOP party chairman Ryan Call were left off the ballot displayed in the printed program, as were many others. Party Chairman Steve House twice took the stage to correct ballot errors.
Jennifer Biehn of Denver said she paid $67 and filed papers to run as a Trump delegate but her name was left off the initial ballot, and, thus, left off the official Trump slate.
“It’s an uphill battle,” she said. “There’s a lot of stories about some of us that this is happening to.”
Still Biehn campaigned on the arena concourse Saturday wearing a t-shirt with “Biehn” and “Trump” in large yellow letters.
“There are a lot of people who believe in Donald Trump and what he can do for this country,” she said.
She wasn’t among the alternates selected, however. And Trump fans received a relatively chilly reception at the weekend meetings.
Emily Brake, of Boulder, distributed letters from “The Women Against Trump Coalition” endorsing several Cruz delegates at Tuesday’s 2nd Congressional District’s outdoor meeting.
“There are a lot of things with Donald Trump that I simply don’t agree with,” Brake said. “I decided to get involved when in recent weeks his attacks on women escalated.”
On Saturday, many delegates fled to concession stands in the arena concourse when former New Hampshire U.S. Sen. John Sununu took the stage to speak on behalf of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, followed by Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
Nearly 11 hours after the convention started, a first-time convention delegate commended the party chairman on the proceedings.
House admitted there were glitches in the process, which he said he’d like to change in the future.
“You wouldn’t do everything on paper like we do” in a private business, he said. “Everything needs to go to an online state. It costs money, and you’re talking about a not-for-profit.”
But overall, House said he was pleased.
“When you have 30 to 40 percent of the people who are brand new, it means that new people are coming in, they’re getting engaged, and in an election year that’s going to be critical.”