Arizona was solidly Donald Trump country in its primary last month, with Republican voters choosing the billionaire businessman by a 22-point margin.
But when party activists gathered in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, on Saturday, it was Ted Cruz who walked away with most of the delegates.
The Texas senator won at least 35 of the 55 delegates up for election at the Arizona GOP state convention. All of them -- plus three other party officials who hold delegate slots -- must vote for Donald Trump on the first round of voting at the national convention in Cleveland this July.
But if Trump fails to win a majority of votes on that first ballot, Arizona delegates can vote for whomever they like. Flipping those votes is crucial for Cruz's strategy. In fact, it's his only option because he is mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination outright during the primary season.
Cruz has proved savvy at the delegate hunt, and Arizona was no exception. His supporters credited the campaign's long-standing ground game.
"You have a candidate two years out that's planning," said Michael Sussman, a contractor who specializes in electronic medical records. Cruz "seems to plan for every contingency. And wouldn't you want a president to plan for every contingency?"
The Cruz camp allied with Ohio Gov. John Kasich's team, offering nearly identical slates in an effort to consolidate the anti-Trump vote.
Kathy Petsas, who was elected as a statewide delegate, says she plans to vote for Kasich if there's a second ballot. She says she had no reservations about not voting for Trump even though he won her state's primary.
"Trump does not have a mandate yet," Petsas said, noting that though he did win the primary, he came short of winning a majority of votes.
Trump supporters cried foul over the voting process for 28 statewide delegates, where attendees used an electronic system to cast their votes via tablet, smartphone and computer. The process allowed campaigns to designate a slate of their preferred delegates; users could vote for one slate or pick and choose among nearly 700 candidates.
The Trump team said technical glitches led to some of their chosen delegates, including former Gov. Jan Brewer, not being included in their slate, leading to confusion. Trump came away with only two statewide delegates.
Jeff DeWit, who chairs Trump's Arizona campaign, said that middling result was incomprehensible "in a state where for every one Cruz vote, there were two Trump votes. So somebody tell me how that happens."
"We don't feel this was a fair process," he added.
Robert Graham, chairman of the Arizona GOP, brushed back the Trump team's accusation that the system was rigged against their candidate.
"When people lose, they feel terrible. They wish they won," he said.
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