The Maine Republican Party begins its state convention Bangor on Friday and on Saturday, it’ll pick the delegates who will help decide the party’s presidential nominee in July at what may be the first contested national convention since 1976.

 In Maine, the 2016 convention is expected to be nothing like the 2012 debacle that saw backers of insurgent White House hopeful Ron Paul take over the state convention only to have delegates later split between him and Mitt Romney, who won Maine’s popular vote and the nomination.

That’s mainly because Maine altered caucus rules to bind delegates to the results of a March nominating caucus, where Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won 12 of 23 delegates, billionaire front-runner Donald Trump won nine and Ohio Gov. John Kasich won two.

It doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be wrangling. Why?

Trump is the only candidate who can win the nomination outright before the national convention, but he’s not on track to do so. If he doesn’t, the nomination will be decided on the convention floor. There, if nobody wins on a first ballot, delegates can vote for any candidate. That’s what campaigns are girding for now.

In Maine, roughly 200 people are running to be national convention delegates to be elected on Saturday. But now, Cruz supporters say that insiders are mulling a proposed slate of delegates from Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump supporter who is running to be a delegate alongside First Lady Ann LePage.

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Earl Bierman, a Cruz delegate candidate and chief of staff to Maine House Republicans, said his camp has discussed a slate with LePage’s team to be apportioned according to the March nominating caucuses.

Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, another Cruz supporter, called LePage’s proposed slate “an option,” expecting “a fairly coordinated effort to inform the convention as to who supports whom.”

Bierman said he expects “no attempt at taking over the convention,” but he said LePage plays “brass-knuckle politics,” so many are waiting to see how Saturday plays out.

“We’re of the same party and during the primary season, you duke it over, but when it’s over, you kind of hold hands at the end,” he said. “We’re trying to keep things as civil as possible.”

Details are unclear, however: LePage’s political adviser, Brent Littlefield, didn’t return messages seeking comment. Peter Steele, a spokesman for LePage’s office who’s running to be a delegate, said he’s on the list for “staffing purposes” should LePage be a delegate to the national convention.

It could be a bid to help Trump on any second ballot, so it’s something to watch asSaturday gets closer.


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