In chaotic GOP race, an intense battle for delegates plays out under the radar

In Virginia, where Trump won the primary handily and Cruz came a poor third, the Texan’s team is trying to ensure the state’s delegate slate would give the Texas senator a majority on a second ballot. As of Thursday, the Cruz campaign was fielding a full slate of delegate hopefuls in Virginia, including three from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts and 13 at-large delegates.

To organize the delegate operation, Cruz tapped Chris Shores, a veteran Republican operative who was part of a 2012 coup within the state party governing structure in which tea party-influenced Republicans outmaneuvered the party establishment to help make former state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli II the gubernatorial nominee.

At the Cleveland convention, the Cruz camp’s challenge could come in the form of delegates such as Rod Hedlund, who owns a company that repairs industrial equipment and is running to be a Trump delegate.

“The only way Trump will not be the nominee is if it comes from the grass roots,” said Hedlund, who lives in suburban Richmond. “If the RNC comes down with power brokers trying to negate his nomination, there will be a rebellion.”