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Trump's Threat To Sue Over Louisiana Delegates Reveals Organizational Weakness

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump makes a boxing gesture while greeting the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally in New Orleans earlier this month. Trump won Louisiana, but Ted Cruz is likely to end up with more delegates from the state. i

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump makes a boxing gesture while greeting the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally in New Orleans earlier this month. Trump won Louisiana, but Ted Cruz is likely to end up with more delegates from the state. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

toggle caption Gerald Herbert/AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump makes a boxing gesture while greeting the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally in New Orleans earlier this month. Trump won Louisiana, but Ted Cruz is likely to end up with more delegates from the state.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump makes a boxing gesture while greeting the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally in New Orleans earlier this month. Trump won Louisiana, but Ted Cruz is likely to end up with more delegates from the state.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Donald Trump has set his sights on a new target for litigation: the Republican Party. He is threatening to sue the Republican National Committee over delegate allocations in Louisiana. Trump defeated Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Louisiana's March 5 primary, but Cruz may receive up to 10 more delegates from the state than Trump.

Trump defeated Cruz by 3.6 percentage points in Louisiana. But because the results were relatively close, each candidate was awarded 18 delegates.

There are also five unbound delegates in the state, reserved for party officials and elected officeholders, who are expected to back Cruz. And there are five delegates won by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has since dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination. They are seen as likely to switch their allegiances to Cruz as well.

The possibility of Cruz finishing second to Trump yet coming away with more delegates has got the New York businessman in a litigious mood. He tweeted on Sunday:

The Trump campaign is also upset it lost the inside game to Cruz over Louisiana's slots on three key committees at the Republican National Convention this summer. Cruz won five of the state's six seats on the committees that will write the party rules and platform in Cleveland.

Henry Barbour, a Republican Party national committeeman from neighboring Mississippi, says what happened in Louisiana is that "the Cruz people showed up when it was time to vote in these party organizational meetings, and the Trump people just didn't show up in numbers."

Barbour predicts this will be a problem for Trump not just in Louisiana but in other states where the Trump campaign lacks an experienced organization. "It's not complicated," Barbour says. "It's as much about showing up as it is about anything else." Most of these meetings are held on Saturdays, "when most people would be rather out hitting a golf ball or a tennis ball or fishing." Barbour says it's "just not that appealing except for the political nerds like me."

But as obscure as the process may seem to outsiders and neophytes, it matters, especially if Trump falls short of the necessary delegates to win the GOP nomination on the first round. So along with threatening to sue the RNC, Trump has also hired veteran political operative (and member in good standing of the Republican establishment) Paul J. Manafort to act as his delegate wrangler, to avoid further tactical missteps.

Correction March 29, 2016

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Ted Cruz may receive up to 10 more delegates than Cruz. In fact, he could receive that many more than Trump.

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