AP - Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has locked up the support of 21 Colorado delegates and may scoop up even more Saturday.
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Slates loyal to Cruz won every assembly in the state's seven congressional districts, which began April 2 and culminated Friday with 12 delegates selected.
The Texas senator is well-positioned to pad his total Saturday, when 13 more delegates were to be chosen at the party's state convention.
According to an Associated Press count, Trump has 743 delegates, Cruz has 532 and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 143. It takes 1,237 to clinch the nomination, though there's a real chance no candidate will reach that mark by the national convention in Cleveland in July.
Of Cruz's Colorado delegates so far, only 17 were formally pledged to him, and in theory the other four could change their vote in Cleveland. But they were all included on the senator's slates and are largely state party officials who said they were barred from signing a formal pledge for Cruz but have promised to back him in balloting at the convention.
The result shows how Cruz's superior organization has helped him as he tries to catch up with front-runner Donald Trump.
While Cruz's campaign spent months recruiting slates of delegates and securing pledges, Trump only this past week hired a Colorado state director.
The Trump campaign said it wasn't worried and had always expected to fare poorly in Colorado because its assembly process is dominated by party insiders. "If we had a primary, yes, we would have done very well here," said Trump senior adviser Alan Cobb.
Cruz also appeals to activists who dominate party functions — a deeply conservative, religious crowd with a libertarian streak.
"Coloradans, naturally having that pioneer spirit, gravitate toward someone like Cruz," said state Rep. Justin Everett, one of Cruz's pledged delegates.