COLORADO SPRINGS – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz swept to victory in Colorado on Saturday, taking all of the state’s pledged delegates.
On Friday, the U.S. senator from Texas took all three delegates in the 3rd Congressional District – which includes La Plata County – as well as the three alternate delegates.
With all of the congressional district assemblies out of the way, Cruz won the state convention, which took place Saturday in Colorado Springs.
Speaking at the convention on Saturday, Cruz pointed to his recent momentum, hoping that Colorado can carry him to a nomination in July.
“This has been a remarkable year. I will say this, it hasn’t been boring,” Cruz joked, pointing to the circus that has been the 2016 presidential election.
“We’re here today because our country is in crisis,” he continued.
Cruz had 17 bound delegates ahead of the Republican state convention. Another four delegates are unpledged but publicly expressed support for the candidate, who hopes to curb momentum seen by front-runner Donald Trump.
Cruz declared victory in Colorado, pointing out that he won all 21 delegates from the state’s seven congressional assemblies.
Another 13 delegates were awarded at the state convention on Saturday. An additional three delegates in Colorado’s 37-member national delegation are unpledged party leaders.
Colorado Republicans received unflattering national headlines for a complicated and chaotic multistep nominating process, which did not include a preference poll at caucuses on March 1, Super Tuesday. As a result, GOP candidates largely ignored Colorado – until now.
With the prospect of a contested national convention in July growing stronger, a sweep for Cruz in Colorado could prove critical to preventing a Trump nomination.
Trump supporters largely acknowledged that Colorado is “Cruz country,” and so his campaign did not spend much time on the ground here. Surrogates were sent to the assemblies and convention, but Trump himself passed over the state.
Similarly, John Kasich did not attend the state convention, though he also sent a surrogate to speak on his behalf.
A sense of urgency filled the air inside a hotel in Colorado Springs, where the assemblies took place Friday. A mix of excitement and anger resonated through large banquet halls, across from tables piled with candidate and special interest leaflets and other imformation. Supporters sold American flag T-shirts and hats that read “Cruz” and “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s slogan.
On Saturday, 3,471 delegates were in attendance at the state convention, piling into the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. Another 1,297 alternates also attended.
“We can overcome evil with good,” said Charles Ludovicus, a 3rd Congressional District delegate, who pledged his support for Cruz on Friday. “Together, we can restore the republic and restore tomorrow’s America.”
Stephen Miller, a Trump surrogate and senior campaign aide, also addressed the 3rd CD audience, as he did again Saturday, arguing that Trump is the only candidate fighting “the established power that has betrayed you, that has betrayed our values, that has betrayed the working people of this country.”
But Cruz said of Trump: “It’s easy to talk about making America great again, you can even put that on a baseball cap. But the real question is, do you understand the principles and values that made America great in the first place?”
He also took a swipe at both Democratic presidential candidates in one breath, saying: “The Democrats consist of a wild-eyed socialist ... and Bernie Sanders.”
Procedure requires pledged delegates to vote for their preferred candidate on the first ballot at the national convention in Cleveland. Unpledged delegates have until votes are cast to make a choice.
State party leaders on Saturday asked delegates to unite around whichever candidate wins the national nomination.
“We must walk together this election year,” said Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.
“We are going to stand behind our nominee and we are going to stand behind that process,” added U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez.
Critics, however, say the party is misguided. Outside Broadmoor World Arena, a group of anti-Trump protesters waved signs and distributed a statement that read: “We reject your fear, hate-mongering and bigotry.”
Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio said the convention offered Republicans a chance to “take Colorado and America backwards.”
“They’d only add to the hyper partisanship and dysfunction that goes on there,” Palacio said of the GOP candidates. “I’m absolutely confident that Coloradans will elect a Democrat.”