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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the media during a news conference at the construction site of the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Building in Washington, March 21, 2016. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg)

GOP bracing for nomination battle in Cleveland


CONCORD — Did you hear the one about Speaker Paul Ryan picking the next President?
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How about the story about Ted Cruz and John Kasich joining forces to try to thwart Donald J. Trump?
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Lou Gargiulo has heard some of the wild scenarios. This Trump supporter from Hampton Falls is not impressed, nor is he all that surprised that, in his words, establishment Republicans are “hellbent” on trying to stop Trump from reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
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A roller-coaster election season looks like it could go off the rails with a possible contested GOP presidential convention in July.
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Gargiulo, one of 11 New Hampshire delegates Trump is sending to Cleveland, is bracing for a close finish — maybe even an attempt at a convention fight, given Cruz and Kasich remain in the race.
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It would not be without consequences for the party, he contends.
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“The Republican Party would be very foolish if they try to deny him the nomination,” Gargiulo said. “There's going to be a mass exodus of people who won't vote in November.”
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Trump himself has brushed aside any talk that he will not get to the 1,237 delegates before the convention, though there are multiple press reports that his campaign is crafting a strategy to woo unbound delegates in July, as necessary, on a possible second ballot.
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The nominating calendar still has several big contests. Next up is the Wisconsin primary on April 5, followed by New York on April 19. May has five primaries.
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The finale is June 7, when California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota hold primaries.
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Trump, who is about 500 delegates shy of reaching 1,237, is the most likely candidate to capture the nomination at this point, said Chris Galdieri, political science professor at St. Anselm College.
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The Trump critics, before trying to orchestrate a contested convention, must first slow down the real estate mogul's momentum, something opponents have not had any luck with so far.
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Galdieri's heard some of the different scenarios for how the GOP nominating process will play out, including chatter about the prospect of a third-party bid and Congress stepping in to resolve it if electors refuse to vote for Trump.
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“You're really getting into murky constitutional waters,” he said.
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The history unfolding reminds people that the nominating process is not an election just of the primary voters, said Wayne Lesperance, political science professor at New England College in Henniker.
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The political plot thickens if Trump comes up shy of the 1,237-delegate threshold, he notes.
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“This is a poly-sci nerd's dream come true,” Lesperance said.
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National conventions, in terms of nominations, have been so straight-forward over the past quarter of a century that they are sometimes likened to a big infomercial for the presidential ticket. The last contested convention was back in 1976, in terms of President Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan heading into the convention without the majority of delegates needed to win the nomination — Ford won on the first ballot.
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At this point, Galdieri believes it is unlikely to have a contested convention. “And,” he added, “I say that as someone who was a Trump skeptic for all of 2015.”
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Different stories keep popping up, however. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who dropped out of the GOP race last fall, told reporters last week that there could be an open convention with delegates picking a nominee who is not currently a candidate in the race.
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Some of this talk in the national press may galvanize Trump's base, Lesperance said. “These folks are Trump supporters for a reason,” he said. “That plays right into his argument.”
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New Hampshire delegates

In the New Hampshire Primary on Feb. 9, as certified by the secretary of state, Trump was allocated 11 delegates based on his win.
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Ohio Gov. John Kasich won four, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz three, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush three, and Florida Sen. Maroc Rubio two.
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Trump delegates, per RNC rules and New Hampshire state law, based on the primary results:
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Al and Judy Baldasaro of Londonderry, Robert Burns of Manchester, Frederick Doucette of Salem, Louis Gargiulo of Hampton Falls, Paula Johnson of Nashua, Corey R. Lewandowski of Windham, Stephen Stepanek of Amherst, Ellen Suprunowicz of Amherst, Daniel Tamburello of Londonderry, Joshua Whitehouse of Farmington.
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