BRONX, N.Y.—Fresh from a key victory in Wisconsin’s primary, Ted Cruz arrived at Saburosa 2 — a Dominican eatery owned by Chinese-Americans in the South Bronx — ready to court a small, conservative constituency scattered around the largely blue state of New York. But as the afternoon meet and greet unfolded, it became clear that the Texas Senator wouldn’t be able to woo potential supporters without also encountering challengers.
“Why are you in the Bronx if you’re such an anti-immigrant?” asked Gonzalo Venegas, who was with his brother, Rodrigo. The pair co-hosts a show on TeleSur English and makes up the Bronx hip-hop duo Rebel Diaz.
As the two were escorted by police out of a crowd filled with men wearing either cowboy hats or yarmulkes, Rodrigo continued to rip into Cruz’s anti-immigration attitude and highlight what he called “environmental racism,” which his community was experiencing because of climate change.
“We’re one of the poorest congressional districts in the country, and to receive this right wing bigot is an insult to the whole community,” he yelled. “People are dying!,” he continued, as sweat rolled down his temple. “People are dying, Ted Cruz!”
Though the meet and greet continued, the disruption set a tone for the event. Even if Cruz was able to arrange a backroom schmoozing session hosted by Democratic state Sen.Rubén Díaz, his plan to collect at least some of New York’s 95 GOP delegates would definitely come with image problems.
But in the face of protests, and despite polling in third place in the state, Cruz knew exactly what he was doing in a minority-rich district with conservative tendencies. New York is among the 24 states that award delegates by congressional district, rather than on a statewide basis. Generally each district choses three delegates — five in Missouri.
If Cruz is able to pick off a few districts where his socially conservative views appeal to voters — like the heavily Latino 15th Congressional District — he’ll receive a considerable bump in his delegate count, regardless of how unpopular he might be to the majority of Manhattanites. It explains his appearance in the Bronx on Wednesday, and his packed Thursday schedule, which includes a town hall in a village northwest of Albany, an appearance at a Bronx deli and a tour of a matzo bakery in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach.