Update: Cruz Wins After Massive Kansas Voter Turnout At GOP Caucus
Update at 7:20 p.m.
According to the Associated Press, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has won the Republican caucuses in Kansas. He received 48.2 percent of votes, per the AP, with 4,161 votes in Sedgwick County.
That's despite Donald Trump speaking before hundreds of people at a rally in Wichita on Saturday morning.
Cruz's large margins of victory held steady in caucus sites throughout the state. According to preliminary numbers from the Kansas Republican Party, Cruz received 35,207 votes statewide; Trump received 17,062.
Support for Cruz was obvious in the crowds that flooded a convention hall in Wichita, where the state’s largest caucus was held, with signs reading 'TrusTed' and 'Choose Cruz.'
Trump’s visit wasn’t all for nothing, however. Kansas caucuses use a proportionate method for its winners, so the current GOP front-runner, who won about a quarter of the caucus votes, will still take home some of Kansas’ 40 delegates.
Kelly Arnold, chair of the party, said in a message sent out Saturday that about 81,000 people sought to vote at the caucuses, up from about 30,000 in 2012. About 6,200 provisional and 3,000 absentee ballots will be counted in the coming days and added to the total number of votes.
Kansas held both their Democratic and Republican caucuses Saturday, and GOP leaders in the state expected a record turnout.
The Republican caucus held in downtown Wichita echoed that prediction, with seemingly endless lines of people sporting their favorite candidate on pins and hats.
The caucus started early in the morning, with supporters hearing speeches from candidates Donald Trump and later, Ted Cruz.
It was easy to find people in the crowd who were participating in their first caucus.
Jamie Anderson was out supporting John Kasich, who she says is the more moderate, common sense Republican candidate.
“It’s my first caucus. We just moved here from New York. So the voting process is totally different,” Anderson said. “We wanted to see what this is like and, obviously, cast our vote.”
Alan Mueller, who’s 67 years old, says that because there are still three candidates fighting tooth and nail for every delegate, he feels this is the first year his vote will truly count.
“This is the first time I’ve [caucused]—it’s the first time it’s mattered,” he said. “It hasn’t totally been decided. It’s leaning heavily towards Trump, but there’s still a couple large hurdles to cross.”
Mueller says his mind isn’t totally made up, but that he likes that Trump shoots from the hip.
During a series of ten-minute stump speeches prior to caucus voting, the crowd seemed to heavily favor Ted Cruz, who was also in town.
Cruz, who sported jeans and cowboys boots, like many of his supporters in the crowd, spoke about turning around the American economy.
“The heart of our economy is not Washington, D.C.,” Cruz said. “The heart of our economy is small business all across this country.”
Cruz also spoke gravely about the United States Supreme Court position left open by the late Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly last month.
“We are one left-wing justice away from the Supreme Court erasing the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights,” Cruz warned.
After a well-attended rally, Donald Trump was booed in a more mixed crowd of Republicans.
During his rally prior to the caucus, Trump stayed on message with his vow to build a wall at the U.S./Mexico border and to have the Mexican government pay for it.
“It’s going to be very tall, and every time Mexico protests it, it’s going to gain another 10 feet,” Trump said.
Candidate Marco Rubio held an event on Friday afternoon to try and drum up support for his campaign. He likened his need for a come-from-behind victory to the Wichita State men’s basketball team, who narrowly escaped with a victory over Loyola-Chicago in their first game of the Missouri Valley Conference Championship.
Kansas will send 40 delegates to the Republican National Convention later this year.
Protesters at the Trump rally:
Follow Sean Sandefur on Twitter, @SeanSandefur
To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at email@example.com.