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State GOP extends delegate deadline as campaigns jockey

SANTA FE – The Republican Party of New Mexico is keeping the door open for national delegate applicants amid a push by the Donald Trump campaign to mobilize supporters.

State party spokesman Tucker Keene announced Monday that consideration will be given for two additional weeks to applicants who missed the April 15 deadline to vie for a delegate seat at the GOP national convention this summer in Cleveland.

New Mexico is accustomed to having little or no say in the Republican presidential nomination, and the possibility of multiple ballots at the convention is shaking up the delegate selection process.

New Mexico’s 24 delegates will be free to back any candidate if no one secures the nomination in the first round at the national convention. The state’s delegates initially are bound to follow voter preferences among presidential candidates who win at least 15 percent of the New Mexico vote June 7.

Keene said the two-week extension for self-nominations was based on feedback from all three campaigns, while a Republican state lawmaker with ties to the Ted Cruz campaign criticized efforts to extend the deadline as a strategic ploy by Trump.

“This is truly Trump,” said Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, who has applied to be a delegate to the national convention. “Rather than learning how the process works, he cries and complains to get the process changed because he doesn’t like it.”

Brian Jack, national delegate director for Trump, highlighted Trump organizers’ efforts to encourage more national delegate volunteers while attending each county Republican convention across New Mexico. That is where state-level delegates are named.

They decide in late May who goes to the national party convention. Most of New Mexico’s delegates must pay their own way at a cost of some $5,000.

Last week, Republican National Committeeman Pat Rogers of Albuquerque and former state party chairman Harvey Yates remarked that Cruz supporters appeared to have the most active and organized effort underway to woo potential delegates, followed by efforts by Ohio Gov. John Kasich partisans.

New Mexico holds its presidential primary on the last possible date with four other states. Among those states, it has the fewest national delegates – overshadowed not only by California and New Jersey, but also by more solidly Republican South Dakota and Montana.

Three of New Mexico’s national delegate seats are reserved for state party Chairwoman Debbie Maestas and Republican National Committee members Rogers and Rosie Tripp.

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