Ted Cruz on Saturday won all 14 delegates in the Wyoming GOP convention -- a relatively small number but enough for the Texas senator to declare victory and keep GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump from securing the nomination.
“We are likely to have a battle in Cleveland to decide who is the nominee,” Cruz told party members before they picked the delegates. “If you don’t want to see Donald Trump as the nominee, … then I ask you to please vote for the men and women on this slate.”
The Wyoming process mirrored that of Colorado, which was engulfed by political controversy after hosting a similar convention last week.
Cruz’s campaign ran circles around the Trump operation there, prompting Trump to slam the multi-tiered caucus system as “rigged.”
Cruz was expected to do well in Wyoming because his campaign had been lining up support there for months, too.
“The ground game is starting early and starting at your most local, smallest enclave,” said Ed Buchanan, Cruz’s Wyoming chairman.
After being tapped by Cruz in February, Buchanan started drafting activists across the state. His efforts were bolstered by two days of Cruz campaign stops in Wyoming last August.
Trump did not actively campaign in either state, while Cruz put in face-time in both.
“You are going to hear this from me more and more: We have to bring our country together. We are a divided nation,” Trump said at a rally in upstate New York, ahead of the state’s primary Tuesday in which 95 GOP delegates are up for grabs.
Before Saturday, Trump had 742 delegates, followed by Cruz with 529 and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 143. The winner needs 1,237 delegates to win the nomination. (Kasich is running second in the New York primary, according to polls.)
Senior Trump adviser Alan Cobb said about Colorado and Wyoming: "Candidates that have allies that are party insiders have advantages in states that have a pyramid process of selecting their delegates. These folks have worked this process for years."
Mindful of potential accusations, Wyoming GOP leaders are ready. Their message: The rules were set long before anyone announced their candidacy.
“Every presidential candidate for the last 40 years has managed this process and has worked through this process and has followed the process that we have in Wyoming,” state GOP Chairman Matt Micheli said in an interview with Fox News. “We are simply following the rules that are in place and that have been in place for a long time.”
Fox News' Dan Gallo, Mike Emanuel and John Roberts contributed to this report.