LEWISTON —U.S. Ted Cruz of Texas won the most Republican delegates in Maine caucuses Saturday, getting 12 of the 23 delegates up for grabs.

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump came away with nine delegates and Ohio Gov. John Kasich won 2 delegates.

A record number of Mainers participated in Republican caucuses to log their choice for the party’s presidential nominee.

Party officials said the day’s turnout was 18,650, triple that of 2012.

Officials with the Maine Republican Party were predicting high turnout totals across 20 locations during nominating events to determine how to apportion the state’s 23 delegates. Maine is one of four states where Republican voters participated in party voting contests Saturday. The others are Louisiana, Kansas and Kentucky. Puerto Rico, which has the same number of Republican delegates as Maine, will hold Republican caucuses Sunday.

Two leading contenders for the overall nomination, front-runner Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, held rallies in Maine on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Their presence in the state underscores how contentious, and unpredictable, the Republican selection process has become.


Cruz, whose supporters appeared have a strong showing at Maine caucus sites, argued that he’s the only one who can defeat Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton during an energetic rally at the University of Maine in Orono. On Thursday, Trump made his case in Portland with the backing of Gov. Paul LePage.

Trump supporters showed up in force on Saturday. Peter Mantell, a volunteer working the Trump table at Biddeford Middle School, repeatedly found himself giving bad news: He was out of Trump stickers, buttons and signs. And he ran out early, he said.

“It was like a bunch of piranhas came here and gobbled up everything,” he said.

Many of the Trump supporters appeared to be like Mantell – first-time caucus participants. Mantell, who lives in York, said the real estate mogul and television personality had the “moxie and the guts” to turn the country around. He said the candidate had inspired a movement.

“We’re pissed,” he said.

Matt Angotti of Biddeford said he also intended to vote for Trump. He likes Cruz, but he’s worried Clinton will use the candidate’s hard-line conservative views to defeat him in the General Election.


“He’s unconventional and he’s conservative on the issues that matter, immigration and terrorism,” Angotti said of Trump. “He’s more middle of the road on other issues and that’s OK.”

In Cumberland, one of three caucus spots in Cumberland County, voters started showing up an hour before the doors opened at 8 a.m. at Greely Middle School. They stood in line until the polls opened at 9:30 a.m. to cast their ballots. Many of those in line said they were there to help bring about change.

“We need a big change in our country,” said Donna McNally of New Gloucester, a Trump supporter, who was making her maiden appearance at a political caucus.

In caucuses across the state Saturday, Republicans were voting by ballot, a departure from past years. The voting is taking place at 20 locations across the state. Fewer locations and the apparent interest from new Republican caucus participants produced long lines at all of the polling sites. While some participants were unhappy with the long waits, others were encouraged by the turnout.

Tim Bryant, warden for the caucus in Cumberland, said there was no way for him to assess the turnout there, due to a number of major changes to the process, including far fewer locations. But, he said, people who turned out appeared energized.

“It terrific and wonderful for democracy,” said Bryant.


The Democrats caucus across the state Sunday.

Kim Wessel of Brunswick, an independent voter for the last 34 years, said she decided to become a Republican and caucus this year because she didn’t want Trump to get the nomination. She said she was voting for Cruz. She said she was repelled by the level of debate among the Republican nominees.

“You can’t even let children in the room when Trump speaks on television, or Rubio,” said Wessel.

Jacob Small, 17, of North Yarmouth was among the youngest voters at the caucus in Cumberland. Small, who will turn 18 before Novemeber’s election, said he had put a lot of thought into his choice of Rubio.

“The other candidates are too far right. He is a little more moderate. He has a good tax plan,” said Small.

Bart Ladd of Falmouth, a former Georgia state legislator, said Kasich had been on his radar for decades for his work on a balanced federal budget.


“Kasich is the only adult in the room,” said Ladd.

Tristam Coffin of Bailey Island, another caucus newbie, said he entered the caucus Saturday morning without a clear choice of candidate in mind.

“I haven’t decided,” said Coffin.

This story will be updated.

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