Ted Cruz names RI campaign leadership team

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a campaign rally at the Adam's Mark Hotel Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, fighting to catch up to Donald Trump in the delegate count as the primary calendar grows shorter, expanded his campaign’s Rhode Island leadership team on Thursday.

The Texas senator’s campaign announced that former R.I. Republican Party Chairman Giovanni Cicione and Roseanna Gorham, a party activist and wife of former Rep. Nicholas Gorham, are joining its Rhode Island leadership team. Pawtucket GOP Chairman Lester Olson and North Providence Republican Town Committee member John Donavan are also on the list.

In a statement, Cruz spokesman Ron Nehring said he has “worked with Gio Cicione for the better part of a decade, and we are thrilled to have him on board.”

“The GOP primary is now effectively a two-man race, and we are dramatically ramping up,” Gorham said. “With this structure in place we will be able to reach every corner of the state to bring out support for Ted Cruz on April 26th.”

Cicione told WPRI.com he is “hopeful” Cruz will campaign in Rhode Island before the state’s April 26 primary.

While Trump is poised to do well in Rhode Island, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are expected to contest the state too as the three men battle for every last delegate with an eye on a potential contested convention. There are 19 GOP delegates at stake in Rhode Island, with 1,237 needed to win the nomination.

The honorary Rhode Island chairman of Trump’s campaign is state Rep. Joe Trillo, R-Warwick, while Kasich’s campaign is co-chaired by former state Sen. Dawson Hodgson and former Lt. Gov. Bernard Jackvony. Both are eyeing a visit to Rhode Island.

On the Democratic side, neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders has formally announced Rhode Island campaign leadership so far. Rhode Island has been allotted 33 Democratic delegates, 24 of which will be allotted by primary voters.

The deadline to register to vote in the Rhode Island primary is Sunday, March 27.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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