WASHINGTON, May 26, 2016 — Donald Trump has reached the 1,237 delegate threshold needed to capture the GOP nomination on the first ballot. Fox News reports that the billionaire businessman reached the number required for nomination with the assist of a small number of previously unbound delegates, who told Associated Press that they would support Trump at the Cleveland RNC convention.
After performing a survey of unbound delegates, the AP reported that as of Thursday, Trump had 1238 delegates.
One of the unbound delegates who has thrown her hat in for Trump is Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard. She stressed, “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump. I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” according to Fox News.
AP’s announcement may seriously affect the July convention strategy of three of Trump’s former presidential rivals: Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio. They had publically stated that they would hold onto their pledged delegates to use as leverage with Trump at the July convention. That leverage scheme may now be defunct based upon the AP report.
Trump’s political triumph over 16 other GOP contenders comes less than a year after he announced his candidacy for the presidency. Many mainstream pundits and political officials had regarded the mogul’s June 2015 announcement as just a publicity stunt. But unlike earlier announcements, which he backed out of, the 2015 bid was the real deal.
The businessman’s chances at the time were considered remote. He had never held office, and his well-known tendency to engage in stream-of-consciousness, off-the-cuff remarks was likely to deep-six his candidacy before it could get off of the ground. But once he leapt into the presidential ring, Trump immediately sensed that his style of political incorrectness was exactly what the public wanted.
For the millions of Americans who felt betrayed by years of politics-as-usual and broken promises, Trump was a breath of fresh air. Trump-speak was blunt, clear and to the point. Political correctness was out; Trump’s bluntness ignited a movement of millions, and delegates followed.
On June 7, 303 additional delegates will be up for grabs in five primaries. Trump’s delegate lead will grow, and as he continues his efforts to secure the support of elected Republicans, the leverage held by anti-Trump forces may evaporate.
The hopes of Cruz and the rest to derail Trump rested on the possibility of a second ballot at the convention. Cruz was chief among the GOP contenders who had forged alliances with party officials and unbound delegates in several states Trump had won.
Cruz’s finely tuned on-the-ground campaign operation outmaneuvered Trump and helped him secure commitments of support on later ballots. This may have backfired, though. It helped launch Trump’s national attack against state party delegate count operations which he claimed were being rigged.
National Republican leaders like RNC Chairman Reince Priebus countered Trump’s charges, but Trump’s megaphone was larger than theirs. State GOP leaders like Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, have hitched their wagon to Trump. House, a previously unbound convention delegate, told Fox News, “Leadership is leadership … If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine.”