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Campaign to Deny Donald Trump the Republican Nomination Has Begun

South Dakota's Republican activists were in Pierre picking their delegates to the Republican National Convention. There, Merle Madrid, senior aide to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, had flown in from Columbus to make an appeal: If the convention fails to elect front-runner Donald Trump on the first ballot, consider Kasich on the second — even if the state’s Republican voters sent them there to back Trump or Ted Cruz.

Although, delegate Allen Unruh, a Sioux Falls chiropractor and tea party activist said "Kasich will not get my vote no matter what he does. That ain't gonna happen." Madrid's visit to South Dakota is the first sign of the shadow campaign for the Republican nomination. Kasich and Cruz are working to get bound delegates to break off on a second ballot and vote against Trump.

This means asking delegates to ignore Republican primary voters in order to choose a nominee besides. Trump. In April, Arizona, Colorado and North Dakota will start selecting their delegates. Florence Thompson, a delegate from Caputa who described herself as a "raving conservative,” said, "I’m not a Kasich fan. I would vote for him over a Democrat; however, I think there’s not a lot of difference between him and a Democrat.”

Dana Randall, South Dakota's national Republican committeeman and another delegate stated, "I’m not anti-John Kasich, but I don’t think [Madrid] swung one vote either way." Madrid said, “As we head toward Cleveland, I think it’s clear that this is going to be a convention unlike any other, and states that have perhaps been taken for granted in the past could be delegates that matter a great deal to the candidates. The opportunity to spend some time in the state meeting with delegates was worthwhile and could be advantageous down the road.”

When it comes to South Dakota, many of the delegates signaled to Cruz that they're with him at heart. This could be significant if Trump scores a primary win there on June 7. Trump could find himself in a bind if members of the South Dakota delegation and other abandon him. Lance Russell, a delegate and state representative from Hot Springs said, "There’s a strong resistance to Trump from a number of these people.”

John Teupel, a former state lawmaker and member of the delegation shared, “I’m supporting Ted Cruz, but I’m going to support on the first ballot whoever the citizens of South Dakota support in the Republican primary. Beyond that, we’re gonna have to look at what the situation is and what kind of alliances can be drawn and how can the votes be structured to get somebody the nomination and what’s gonna unify the party.” It seemed that whenever delegates expressed a preference, it was for Ted Cruz.

Photo: Michael Vadon

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