Maine Republicans have given U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas their support in statewide caucuses Saturday, which had record-breaking participation for the party.
Cruz won 12 of 23 delegates, followed by billionaire businessman Donald Trump with nine and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with two.
Maine GOP Chairman Rick Bennett, who has remained neutral on the presidential candidates, says the Cruz campaign did well by having the candidate show up in Maine a day before the caucus and also by building support the old-fashioned way.
“They actually built coalitions, quietly and not so quietly, and brought people together and turned out their vote,” Bennett says. “They had a great ground game.”
If any of the candidates had won greater than 50 percent of the vote, he would have captured all 23 of the state’s delegates. But because Cruz won just 45 percent of the vote, the delegates were split among those candidates with at least 10 percent of the tally on a proportional basis.
Seventeen-year-old Sean Bowers of Scarborough participated in his first caucus after waiting in line for two hours. He says he voted for Ted Cruz.
“Ted Cruz, I think, is an overall very strong candidate,” Bowers says. “I think people can relate to him. He could just really take the bull by the horns with the country and put us back on track.”
More than 18,600 Republicans turned out for the caucuses on Saturday, compared with just under 6,000 in 2012.
GOP Chair Rick Bennett says thousands of people have registered to vote in the last few months alone. He says it’s an indicator that people want new leadership in the country and that Republicans are enthusiastic about getting involved in the presidential election.