- Associated Press - Friday, April 22, 2016

BANGOR, Maine (AP) - Supporters of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz clashed Friday over the apportionment of Maine delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer.

The dispute came on opening day of the Maine Republican convention in Bangor and will be decided Saturday.

Cruz, of Texas, won the March caucus and will have 12 Maine delegates bound to him on the first ballot at the national convention in Cleveland. Trump, the GOP front-runner nationally, will have nine, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will have two. At issue is how the delegates would vote in subsequent ballots.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump supporter, wants delegates to continue to be bound by the caucus results. Cruz supporters say delegates chosen by local party committees should be allowed to switch their vote after the first ballot. The Cruz campaign has been working hard to get delegates selected who are loyal to Cruz.

Speaking on the Howie Carr Show, a Boston-based conservative talk show, LePage said the Cruz campaign staffers rejected his idea and told him they don’t want him to serve as a delegate in Cleveland. He said they called him an “inconsequential” political figure.

LePage said the Cruz campaign is “arrogant” for not following the “will of the people.”

State Rep. Joel Stetkis, a Cruz supporter from Canan, said the Cruz campaign has been more active than the Trump campaign in building support in Maine. He said most delegates will vote for Cruz.

“We have the majority of the will of people of the state of Maine,” he said.

There are 199 Maine delegates seeking to become national delegates, and many on Friday were handing out leaflets seeking support.

Former presidential candidate Ben Carson, a Trump supporter, gave the keynote speech Friday night, touching on many of the issues he spoke about during his campaign.

The only Republican candidate he mentioned was Trump, and only briefly. He said Trump agrees with him that the nation’s “financial foundation” faces collapse if nothing is done to address unfunded liabilities.

“I have been talking about that with Donald Trump,” he said. “He understands that very well.”

Also on Friday, state delegates adopted a party platform that includes a provision advocated by LePage that rejects publically funded election campaigns.

Former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, former U.S. Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine are among the speakers on Saturday.

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