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Downstate Republicans the hottest commodity in NY primary

A man walks to use a voting booth

A man walks to use a voting booth at one of the Virginia primary election polling stations at Colin Powell Elementary School in Centreville, Va. on March 1, 2016. Credit: AFP / Getty Images

My friend and colleague J.C. Polanco just got extraordinarily popular (not that he wasn’t already).

J.C. is among the rarest of birds, you see. He’s a Bronx Republican — one of 37,000 in a borough of 1.4 million souls. To make J.C. rarer still, he votes.

In every election.

I would hate to be his mailbox, telephone or Web server between now and Tuesday, April 19, when New York State holds its presidential primary. They’re going to be like Grand Central Terminal.

Republicans in overwhelmingly Democratic congressional districts — there are many in the city and suburbs — are the hottest commodity in this year’s GOP primary. That’s counterintuitive until you realize how the primary works. Then it makes sense.

Each congressional district, regardless of registration numbers, will award three delegates. If a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, or only one candidate gets 20 percent or more, he wins all three delegates. If at least two candidates receive 20 percent or more of the vote, the one with the most votes receives two delegates and the candidate with the second most gets one.

What that means is that the most godawful districts for Republican candidates — front-runner and hometown favorite to win Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — in any other race are pure gold in a presidential primary.

It’s a lot more cost effective to communicate with 10,000 Republicans in a bad GOP district than 100,000 Republicans in a good one.

Another New York State anomaly is its multiparty system. It’s going to hinder Cruz.

Cruz appeals to the most conservative Republicans, but many of the most conservative voters in New York aren’t actually Republicans. They’re members of the New York State Conservative Party and can’t vote in GOP primaries. And Conservative Party members — about 159,000 statewide — are some of the state’s most reliable voters.

In tight races for second place in New York congressional districts, this will pose an added challenge for Cruz and a benefit to Kasich, who’s targeting moderates.

Republicans who toil perennially in districts where 8 percent or 9 percent in a general election tally is considered progress are the most overlooked, but loyal, members of the party. Now, finally, for once, they will have their day.

They are the belles of this ball.

William F. B. O’Reilly is a Republican consultant.

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