BANGOR, Maine — Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz think they can storm the party’s state convention on Saturday, which could leave Gov. Paul LePage off the list of delegates to the national convention in July.

The behind-the-scenes tension involving the governor — a supporter of Republican front-runner Donald Trump — belied a quiet start to the convention on Friday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, where delegates voted on platform changes and national committee members.

Their move angered the governor, who told conservative talk radio host Howie Carr that the Cruz campaign rejected his proposal for a “unity ticket.”

“I’m disappointed that they’re so arrogant that they’re going to go against the will of the Maine people,” he said.

On Saturday, convention attendees will elect delegates to the July national convention in Cleveland. Cruz won 12 of Maine’s delegates in the March caucuses, with Trump winning nine and Ohio Gov. John Kasich two, but supporters of the Texas senator are shooting for more.

Trump isn’t on track to get enough delegates to win the nomination outright before July and at a convention, delegates are only bound to candidates in a first ballot. On a subsequent ballot, they can vote for whoever they want.


Roughly 200 people are running to be a Maine delegate, but a grass-roots group backing Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas who is seen as the best option to block Trump, has circulated a slate of more than 40 candidates that it says will stay loyal to Cruz.

They may have majority support at the convention, said Earl Bierman, the chief of staff to Maine House Republicans and a leader of the candidate’s Maine effort.

It would allow them to install 20 delegates who’d support Cruz on a second ballot, with the other three spots held by party officials.

“We seem like we’re well-organized, and there’s a lot of Cruz supporters out there,” Bierman said. “I hope they show up tomorrow.”

For now, that plan leaves out LePage, who’s running alongside his wife, Ann, to be a Trump delegate. Governors are often elected as a courtesy, but Bierman said LePage is not on a Cruz slate and supporters “want to try to get all the delegates they can.”

It’s causing some unease within Cruz’s ranks: Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, said LePage should be elected as a delegate out of respect and precedent.


“But the delegates will decide that, not me,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Bangor Daily News reported that LePage was seeking a unity slate that would keep the elected proportion of delegates, but details weren’t revealed publicly until LePage’s interview with Carr.

The governor said Cruz’s team told his staff that LePage is “inconsequential” and they don’t want him as a delegate.

LePage said he’ll still propose a unity slate on Saturday, but it may not include Cruz’s preferred delegates.

“We want to honor what the Maine people said at the caucuses,” he said.

There was a slight skirmish between LePage and Cruz backers on Friday, when national committeeman Alex Willette beat Bierman to retain his spot. Willettewas endorsed by LePage and held posts in his 2014 campaign and administration.

The party also changed its platform on Friday morning to oppose the state’s taxpayer-funded campaign system, but defeated an item that would have removed anti-gay marriage language from the document.

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