Cruz eyes May 3 Indiana primary

For Ted Cruz, the primary map over the next month is not very friendly.  Contests up and down the east coast - including New York on April 19 - do not play to his strengths with evangelicals, strong conservatives, and white males.

This is not to say Cruz can't pad his delegate count in a few of them.  He's within striking distance of Trump in the Pennsylvania primary on April 26 and could gather a good number of delegates in the Connecticut and Rhode Island contests held the same day.

Cruz is setting his sights on the May 3 contest in Indiana, where his chances of upending Trump are much better.

Washington Examiner:

Businessman Donald Trump is still the front-runner, both nationally and in Indiana. But Republican insiders across the state said in interviews Wednesday that the momentum there is now with Cruz, a shift that predated his resounding defeat of Trump in Wisconsin.

The timing is crucial. Early voting started Tuesday; absentee ballots hit mailboxes in late March.

The Cruz campaign deployed the Texas senator's father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, to Indiana for the week to woo voters, and is transferring its Wisconsin team there to begin field operations. As Cruz was enjoying his big victory Tuesday evening, his father was addressing a crowd of hundreds at the Cornerstone Christian Church in Brownsburg, 30 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

"It's going to be competitive," David Buskill, executive director of the Indiana Republican Party, said, of the state's first seriously contested GOP presidential primary in 40 years.

Cruz was expected to announce his Indiana leadership in the coming days. Trump unveiled his team Wednesday. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio previously announced the hiring of top Anne Hathaway, a well-regarded Republican consultant in the state. Rex Early, a veteran Republican insider and former head of the state party, is leading the billionaire's campaign in the Hoosier State.

"Indiana is going to be Trump country," Early boasted, during a telephone interview with the Washington Examiner. "I don't think it's going to be competitive."

Gov. Mike Pence, a conservative stalwart and former congressman who considered his own 2016 presidential bid, could tip the scales with an endorsement. Ideologically, Pence aligns with Cruz. He shares a bond with Kasich, his neighbor to the east who could also be a major factor in the Indiana primary. Pence also appreciates Trump's unique executive experience.

Pence probably won't endorse anyone, given his own race for re-election.  Why alienate either Trump or Cruz supporters when he needs them all in November?

Cruz probably won't need Pence's blessing.  The southern part of the state bordering Kentucky is Southern in its outlook and politics, while the northwestern quadrant is Rust Belt country.  To the east to the Ohio border is rural, rock-ribbed Republican country.  Indianapolis and its suburbs are less conservative and will probably be the focus of both candidates as they battle for votes.

Taken all together, Indiana sets up nicely for Cruz, who will need a good showing to keep the pressure on Trump going into the final leg of the primaries.

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