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Cruz Braces For Series of Defeats in the Northeast

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is headed for defeat in five northeastern primaries Tuesday, a round of nominating contests from which the Texas senator has already moved on.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attended a Pennsylvania campaign kickoff event at the National Constitution Cente…

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz almost certainly is headed for defeat in five northeastern primaries Tuesday, a round of nominating contests from which the Texas senator has already moved on.

Cruz is scheduled to spend election night hundreds of miles away from the region, rallying supporters in Indiana. He has not visited any of the five states since Saturday morning, when he dropped in on Pennsylvania.  

As far back as a week ago, Cruz was conceding Tuesday will likely be another successful day for frontrunner Donald Trump. One hundred and seventy-two delegates are at stake in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — all places where Cruz is polling a distant second to Trump or third behind Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

"Today could well be a very good day for Donald Trump," Cruz said Tuesday morning on Philadelphia radio. "The states that are voting are northeastern states. They have tended to be further left politically." 

After failing to collect any delegates in Trump's home state a week ago, Cruz had signaled he would focus on two out of the five states voting Tuesday: Maryland and Pennsylvania. But in recent days, Cruz has even pulled back from there as his campaign goes all in on Indiana, especially in light of a deal with Kasich that allowed Cruz to take on Trump one-on-one in the Hoosier State. 

Pennsylvania still could be something of a bright spot for Cruz. Fifty-four of the state's 71 delegates are elected at the congressional district level, and while they are not bound to any particular candidate, Cruz's campaign is confident it has cultivated a healthy amount of de facto supporters among those that the state could send to Cleveland. 

"We have spent a lot of time and effort, particularly on the congressional district delegate races," said Lowman Henry, Cruz's chairman in the Keystone State. "That has been our focus, and we think that we’re going to do reasonably well in that."

"What I think you’re going to see is a split decision in Pennsylvania," Henry added, estimating both Cruz and Trump, not Kasich, will each end Tuesday with a "pot of delegates."

While Cruz is expected to spend Tuesday in Indiana, he "will be doing calls to voters" in Pennsylvania, Henry said.

In Maryland, Cruz also has an opportunity to pick up delegates, though the pool is more limited. Twenty-four of the state's 38 delegates are awarded by congressional district, a map that has allowed Cruz to target some of the most conservative corners of an otherwise blue state. 

"There are parts of western Maryland and Eastern Shore that are as Republican as anywhere else in this country," said Mileah Kromer, a political science professor at Goucher College in Baltimore. 

Outside of Maryland and Pennsylvania, Cruz's campaign has kept a low profile in the northeast, not doing much to publicize support or organization. Word of a Cruz office in Connecticut did not even surface until this past weekend, and even then, details were sparse. Besides nodding to his mother's birth in Wilmington, Cruz has all but ignored the winner-take-all primary in Delaware, whose 16 delegates will likely all go to Trump. 

In Rhode Island, Cruz's campaign is under no illusions. Giovanni Cicione, Cruz's co-chair in the state, said the goal is for Cruz to get more of the vote Tuesday in Rhode Island then he did March 1 in neighboring Massachusetts, where he received 10 percent. 

“For us, victory is a strong performance for a New England State," Cicione said, expressing no hard feelings about Cruz not visiting Rhode Island before its primary. "We’d love to have him, but the goal here is to beat Hillary Clinton and I understand the calculus works in favor of places like Indiana, and it is what it is." 

Cruz's only public event Tuesday is a rally in the evening in Knightstown, Indiana. The event is to be held at the Hoosier Gym, best known for its role in the iconic basketball movie of the same name — a film Cruz has been declaring one of his favorites as he barnstorms Indiana.

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