Email shows Cruz moves to weaken Trump grip on delegates

What's happens if Trump falls short of 1,237 delegates?
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What's happens if Trump falls short of 1,237 delegates? 02:13

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  • Cruz camp and allies are reaching out to delegates in Arizona
  • Trump campaign called the move "shenanigans and trickery"

(CNN)Donald Trump won the Arizona Republican presidential primary in a landslide, but Ted Cruz's campaign is trying to break the billionaire developer's hold on state delegates in anticipation of a convention fight this summer -- a move the Trump camp has branded "shenanigans and trickery."

A Phoenix-based political consulting firm working with the Cruz campaign emailed Republicans in Pima County Monday asking supporters to join the Texas senator's state delegate slate. The outreach is part of an organized effort to elect Cruz loyalists to the GOP national convention, where they could vote for him on a second ballot.
    Trump dominated Arizona's March 22 contest, defeating Cruz by 22 points -- a margin of more than 117,000 votes -- and locking up the winner-take-all state's 58 delegates for at least one round of voting at the convention in Cleveland.
    But Cruz, as he has in a number of states, is now seeking to better position himself should the nomination fight go multiple ballots.
    In the email obtained by CNN, Sam Stone from the Cairn Consulting firm contacted Republican precinct committee members in Arizona's 10th legislative district and invited them to join Cruz.
    "National delegates are required to pay their own way to Cleveland, but for those non-Trump supporters who are interested in doing so, the Cruz campaign is organizing a delegate slate at our state party convention to elect people who would be willing to support Sen. Cruz on a second ballot," he wrote. "Being part of the slate will dramatically increase your chances of attending the national convention."
    Stone explained the effort: "As you know, the state convention will select our delegates to the national convention. At the convention, these delegates are bound to vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot. However, it looks increasingly unlikely that Trump will earn the 1,237 delegates needed to win on the first ballot, and after the first ballot most delegates -- including those from Arizona -- will be free to vote for the candidate of their choice."
    "That means," he continued, "as a delegate, your single vote might decide who our nominee is."
    Stone told CNN in a phone interview that he was not on the Cruz campaign payroll but had been contacted by its state director, Constantin Querard, and "asked if I'd be willing to do this since I have a lot of ties to Tucson."
    Stone said Querard asked him "to see how many people we could get who would be Cruz supporters on the elected slate of delegates from the LD10 meeting."
    The Cruz campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the arrangement between Stone and Querard.
    Trump adviser Barry Bennett confirmed the front-runner's campaign had seen the letter.
    "The Cruz campaign understands they cannot win on the merits so now they focus on shenanigans and trickery," he wrote in an email Monday night. "If Senator Cruz has given up on winning then he should abandon his campaign."
    Claudia White, a Republican precinct committeeman, told CNN she contacted Stone early Monday to express her concerns.
    "I am appalled at how precinct committeemen would not do everything possible to honor the DIRECTIVE of Arizona voters and vote for Mr. Trump at EVERY opportunity, from the LDs selecting the State delegates to the election of National delegates," she wrote in email to Stone, whom she accused of seeking to undermine the state's primary process.
    The state convention is scheduled for April 30 at the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, Arizona.