OC’s Ultimate Insider Talks About Ted Cruz’s Outside Shot at GOP Nomination

Mike Schroeder, one of Orange County's most influential GOP powerbrokers.

David Washburn/Voice of OC

Mike Schroeder, one of Orange County's most influential GOP powerbrokers.

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Donald J. Trump still holds the nationwide delegate lead and has the clearest path to the GOP presidential nomination, even after a string of bad weeks. But when it comes to California, Mike Schroeder says Ted Cruz’s team has the New York billionaire right where they want him.

Schroeder is the co-chairman, along with former state Assemblyman Ray Haynes, of Cruz’s California campaign. And as anyone who’s been paying even the slightest attention to the circus that is the Republican nominating contest knows, the Golden State’s June 7 primary now looms as a potential deciding factor in whether Trump gets enough delegates to avoid a contested convention.

As of this writing, Trump leads Cruz 743 to 545 in the delegate chase, a difference of 198 delegates. Cruz’s chances of overtaking Trump in the delegate count before the party’s July convention in Cleveland remain slim. However, if Cruz could win a large majority of California’s 172 delegates, he would very likely prevent Trump from getting to the magic number of 1,237 that it takes to win the nomination.

This is why Schroeder, who had a significant hand in writing the rules of the GOP’s California primary process, wore such an air of confidence last week when Voice of OC caught up with him for a quick interview. He says Cruz can score a big victory in California, even though he is currently trailing in the polls, and would enjoy a significant upper hand during a convention fight.

The following is an abridged version of our interview — Schroeder’s answers have been edited for length and clarity:

To the degree that you can, give me the specifics of how Ted Cruz can beat Donald Trump in California?

Schroeder: Well, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is that Donald Trump doesn’t do very well in primaries that are Republican only — his successes are in primaries where Democrats and independents can cross over. California’s is closed to Republicans only and the format is winner takes all by congressional districts. That means there are in essence 53 different elections…this matters because the number of people in the congressional districts is not uniform. So you won’t just buy TV in LA — you’ll treat it like a mayor’s race, you’ll do phone banking and door knocking. Trump doesn’t have a leadership structure at all in California — he is more of a road show, he comes to town like the circus. He’ll hire a bunch of local operatives and then fire them after the primary and won’t leave anyone behind.

And I assume Cruz does have the organization to pull off an election like this?

Schroeder: We’ve been developing a leadership structure for over a year. The Cruz operation is run by volunteers like me — I wrote these rules deliberately to force candidates to campaign in neighborhoods that they’ve never campaigned in before. Another reason this becomes interesting is that a month before the election [each candidate] has to come up with three delegates and three alternates for each congressional district– That’s 172 delegates and 172 alternates that you have to pick. If you don’t have those delegates picked and filed with the Secretary of State by May 7, you don’t get them. You look at the Cruz operation me, a former (California) GOP chair; Ron Nehring (Cruz’s national spokesman), a former (California) GOP chair. I don’t have to hire someone in a congressional district and try to figure out who is there…if you’ve been working as an activist you’ll know your area.

So you’re not worried by Trump’s claims that he’s hiring “seasoned operatives” as a contested convention looms?

Schroeder: You have to think about who’s left. You’re picking after all the other teams have picked their players. It’s a little late, 60 days before the end of the primary season, to start hiring seasoned operatives.

OK — but Trump is still leading in the polls. And as George Skelton recently quoted GOP consultant Mike Madrid saying: Cruz needs to get out of Huntington Beach and start campaigning in Huntington Park.

Schroeder: Ted Cruz is kind of unique as a candidate. Most come to do cash-ectomies and leave, [but] every time he’s come to California he’s done grassroots campaigning…[Last week’s] Field Poll shows Ted Cruz leading in LA by a significant margin. We are going to campaign for every congressional district. Keep in mind, a month ago we were trailing in Wisconsin, which also awards delegates by congressional districts. And out of the 42 delegates we got 36 and Trump got six.

What do you see John Kasich doing down the stretch?

Schroeder: Well, the thing is Kasich has no chance — he’s just on a narcissism tour. He’s not even in second place in any of the upcoming states…I think that a vote for Kasich is a vote for Trump. It becomes more and more embarrassing for Kasich the longer he stays in…remember, you have to win eight states to have your name considered for the nomination — he’s not done that, nor will he.

But isn’t this a rule that can be changed come convention time?

Schroeder: You’re talking about rule 40. Yes it can be changed, but it will have to be approved by the full convention…Cruz and Trump will control 80 percent of the delegates — they are going to think it’s a pretty cool rule.

Are you expecting Trump and Kasich to campaign hard in OC, or just swoop in for fundraising events?

Schroeder: I’m surprised we haven’t seen Trump yet. He had a press conference scheduled [last week] in Palos Verdes, but cancelled it because, I imagine, he’s worried about New York. Trump was the only candidate not to accept an invitation to the California Republican Party Convention, which is two weeks away (April 29 – May 1). He never turned it down — he just ignored it. I think he has a very poor, badly run organization. I don’t know that he’s even aware of it. It makes you laugh — his organization is in such a shambles that he didn’t even know he got invited? I kind of doubt Kasich will come, because there’s really no path for him here…there is talk he might focus on Delaware and Rhode Island which are late states as well.

Do you think Cruz has any chance at all to win enough delegates before the convention?

Schroeder: Theoretically yes. [But] most likely we’ll see an open convention. In that scenario Trump has to win on the first ballot, or he doesn’t win. He will have considerable erosion on the second ballot…Right now, Cruz and (Marco) Rubio together have more delegates than Trump. And at this point we don’t know what will happen with the Rubio delegates. Delegates are required to vote for their candidate unless the candidate in releases them in writing…This will be a complete barn-burner — something like you’ve never seen before. If Cruz continues to perform like he has recently, and the others release their delegates, he could get it on first ballot. It tells you how unstable the dynamics are in this race.

Please contact David Washburn directly at dwashburn@voiceofoc.org.

  • Darrel Blackmun

    At least there are a few real conservatives left in this State. Any who has to make up sh__ like This Goldman Sachs bs and lyin Ted crap should grow some new ones. A vote for Trump is a vote for Hilarly. Let’s get to the real issues . So far Cruz is the only one discussing the issues and how they can be fixed. Trumps ego is so big he thinks all he has to do is get his free media. What a circus

  • David Zenger

    The “ultimate insider” is Mike Carona. Inside a federal penitentiary.

  • Debby Bodkin

    It is unfortunate that Mr. Cruz did not thoroughly investigate Mr. Schroeder’s past and ongoing political advisor clients, those clients that Schroeder claims are based on his “volunteer” work, out of the goodness of his heart. After all, Schroeder’s candidate Mike Carona served time in federal prison and DA Rackauckas runs his prosecutorial/fiduciary duties like a criminal RICO enterprise, i.e., jail informant scandal, a $1 million budget to investigate public corruption and prosecutors that allow OC Sheriff officials to commit perjury in a court of law, without the filing of criminal perjury charges.

    Schroeder’s arrogance in defaming Governor John Kasich, considering the fact that Kasich could run circles around Schroeder, Rackauckas and most of the elected government officials in the OC, is disgraceful. Although it is great entertainment to witness Carly Fiorina and Schroeder move their way into Ted Cruz’s inner circle–they really believe people are impressed with them. IMO, Cruz just threw the election to Trump, Kasich or Clinton–Cruz should have done his homework before allowing Schroeder/Fiorina to run their mouths on his behalf.

  • Dailysportseditor

    Love the Voice of OC and its staff of hard-working journalists, but I’m not proud of this puff piece for Cruz. It is not consistent with the VoC’s mission, it is not investigative local journalism, it mimics the mainstream media’s fetish of covering the horse-race but not the issues, it contains personal attacks on Cruz’s opponents [Kasich on a ‘narcissism tour”] without any probing questions. This piece is a big disappointment for a very important website for Orange County. I wish I could say something nice, but this piece does not deserve to be published on a non-profit investigative journalism website.

    • LFOldTimer

      Good point.
      A pile-on piece for the establishment insiders.
      Add me to the disappointed list.
      Come on, David. You folks are better than that.

    • David Zenger

      I couldn’t agree more.

      If somebody wants to talk about “narcissism,” how about a story on a creep who got his jollies dumping Mike Carona and Tony Rackaukas on an unsuspecting public?

      Why didn’t the reporter ask (or print response) the interviewee to give A SINGLE, SOLITARY REASON WHY ANYBODY EXCEPT A BRAIN DEAD CADAVER SHOULD VOTE FOR A WACKO FROM TEXAS NAMED TED CRUZ (except that he’s not Trump).

  • David Zenger

    Wasn’t this the guy who brought us those shining exemplars of integrity, Mike Carona and Tony Rackaukas?

  • Judy Allen

    YIPPEE… guaranteed win for Hillary Clinton!

    I DO NOT support her and your work for Cruz (the moron). guarantees that she will be the next president.
    Watcha got to say about that Mike Schroeder?

    • LFOldTimer

      Schroeder is the co-chair of the Cruz’s California campaign. If Cruz was non-establishment do you think Schroeder would support him? Schroeder didn’t claw his way to the top of the OC GOP pile by being non-establishment. 😉

      Did you know that Cruz’s wife is a Goldman Sachs bankster? But then non-establishment types marry Goldman Sach’s banksters all the time. Opposites attract. 😉

      Who wants a Goldman Sach’s First Lady? Sound off. 🙂

  • LFOldTimer

    If the GOP establishment insiders can’t win the delegates by playing clean – they’ll play dirty and manipulate the rules to disadvantage the favored candidate by disenfranchising a million voters and stealing the delegates just like they did in Colorado. ha.

    Big GOP constituent protest planned in Colorado for April 15. Those people were told their vote don’t count in the selection of the GOP presidential nominee. The establishment insiders will decide. No way would Cruz take all CO delegates had there been a primary vote. Dirty politics.

    Keep an eye on ‘democracy’ Republican style as the GOP primaries move forward. They’re playing with fire. Decent, fair and moral people who believe in democracy and the ‘vote of the people’ won’t put up with it.

  • Jacki Livingston

    The GOP is done. They have lost all veneer of decency and statesmanship. The party of Lincoln, Reagan and Dole is now held hostage by the lunatic Tea Party nutters. They have no dignity left. Cruz is a moron. Trump is an adulterer, weasel and they are both hate mongers, exploiting the worst fear and insanity of the least educated and most whiny. I wish the Demo had better nominees, but, like Laura Bush, I will take Bernie or Hilary over any of the whack a doodle GOPPERS. They can’t even manage their own local corruption. Schroeder is the most powerful guy on a sinking ship. Whoopee! Color me so impressed…not.

  • kburgoyne

    Cruz v Trump: Did you want to die by electric chair or lethal injection?

    • LFOldTimer

      Or don’t forget getting thrown into a pool of hungry sharks if you vote for Hillary.

  • Cynthia Ward

    Thank you for a very interesting interview, it is helpful to learn how the bigger races are run, especially for us locals who don’t get invited to the grown-ups’ table. And that was worth the read even if I only learned one new word for my vocabulary. “Cash-ectomy.” Love it.

  • LFOldTimer

    Schroeder supports Cruz?
    Cruz just lost my vote.