NEW YORK – Rep. Chris Collins believes that Donald Trump is on to something.
Sure, the Republican Party’s rules on delegate allocation are on the books and must be followed, he says. But like Trump, Collins doesn’t have to think they are fair.
As one of Trump’s chief Washington supporters, the Clarence Republican said the candidate’s escalating criticism over delegate selection in Colorado and other states will win even more enthusiasm from his supporters.
“When you think that the voters are supporting Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, it says they don’t want an inside, chief politician kind of guy,” Collins said Thursday from Washington. “When he says the rules aren’t fair, I think Trump benefits from the sympathy factor. It energizes Trump.”
Collins took to Fox News and MSNBC on Thursday to echo Trump’s feud with Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus and other party officials over how delegates were chosen in Colorado last week, and how the congressman fears they will be selected in Pennsylvania next week.
Trump has complained that Colorado, unlike most states, chooses its delegates indirectly in caucuses and ended up awarding most to his chief rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, because voters were not allowed to directly participate.
Collins does not dispute the rules. But, like Trump, he is on the attack.
“It’s not cheating, but they are taking full advantage of the rules,” he said. “Is it fair? No. Is it within the rules? Yes.”
Still, Collins has continued to tell national television audiences that he thinks Trump will go to the convention in July backed by the 1,237 delegates needed to win a majority on the first ballot.
“Even if he has, say, 1,157, he’s still got a lock,” he said, acknowledging that anything in the range of 900 to 1,000 presents an insurmountable hurdle. “That certainly gives the establishment and Ted Cruz every legitimate reason within the rules the ability to get to the second ballot,” he said. “I don’t disagree that Trump’s biggest numbers will be on that first ballot.”
Referring to Cruz, Collins said, 'On inside baseball, he’s got it down pat.”
But he said he does not believe that Cruz will fare well in New York, predicting that Trump will snare a minimum of 85 – and possibly all 95 – of the state’s delegates. “I’m pretty confident we can get there and can certainly count on a big night in California” on June 7, Collins said.
Collins said he will be onstage with Trump at Monday evening’s rally in Buffalo’s First Niagara Center.