Campaigns secretly prep for brokered GOP convention – Politico

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Candidates, outside groups and party officials are quietly maneuvering for a nomination fight that goes all the way to the bitter end.

Mysterious outside groups are asking state parties for personal data on potential delegates, Republican campaigns are drawing up plans to send loyal representatives to obscure local conventions, and party officials are dusting off rulebooks to brush up on a process that hasn’t mattered for decades.

As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz divide up the first primaries and center-right Republicans tear one another apart in a race to be the mainstream alternative, Republicans are waging a shadow primary for control of delegates in anticipation of what one senior party official called “the white whale of politics”: a contested national convention.

The end-game for the most sophisticated campaigns is an indecisive first ballot leading to a free-for-all power struggle on the floor in Cleveland.

“This is going to be a convention like I’ve never seen in my lifetime,” said veteran operative Barry Bennett, who managed Ben Carson’s campaign until December and is now advising Trump. “It’s going to be contentious from day one.”

The primaries and caucuses that dot the nominating calendar and whose results drive headlines will decide the candidate most delegates are bound to vote for on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. Should the first ballot fail to produce a nominee, the outcome of the convention will depend on results of the parallel primary now underway for the hearts and minds of delegates.

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