Why Ted Cruz faces tough slog in winning over New York
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Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSanders meets with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Cruz knocks Chick-fil-A over past donation: It has 'lost its way' Overnight Energy: Relocated BLM staff face salary cuts | UN report calls for drastic action on climate change | California asks EPA to reconsider emissions rule MORE’s “New York values” insult isn’t going down well with the city’s residents.

The Texas Republican senator was heckled in the Bronx, called a “phony” by a Long Island congressman and dissed on the cover of the New York Daily News as he campaigned for votes this week ahead of the state's April 19 primary.

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“TAKE THE F U TRAIN, TED!” the New York tabloid’s front-page headline blared.

Heading into presidential rival Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE’s backyard was always going to be a risky proposition for Cruz, a Tea Party favorite who won a convincing victory over the businessman in Wisconsin earlier this week.

A poll out Friday showed Trump trouncing both Cruz and John Kasich in the New York GOP primary.

But Cruz's swipe against New Yorkers has made his latest campaign swing through the state even more awkward and uncomfortable — especially as Trump tries to spin the line into a slur against New Yorkers who came together in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

One New York GOP strategist who is neutral in the race said Cruz’s “values” remark only reinforced why many in the state already despise him. A fiscal conservative, Cruz last year voted against the Zadroga Act, which provided an additional 75 years of health coverage for first responders who worked at Ground Zero after 9/11.

In 2013, he opposed a $51 billion aid package for victims of Hurricane Sandy, infuriating New Yorkers and other nearby residents who had been affected by the storm.

“There was already a dislike for him in certain pockets in the city,” the New York strategist said.

A Cruz spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Cruz’s goal isn’t to win New York. That's almost impossible given where he stands in the polls. An Emerson College Polling Society survey on Friday showed Trump dominating the field, with 56 percent. Cruz followed, with 22 percent, and Kasich captured just 17 percent. An earlier poll showed Cruz in third place.

That poll, released this week from Monmouth University, showed Trump cracking the 50 percent mark, with Kasich at 25 percent and Cruz at 17 percent.

Instead, with the race barreling toward a possible contested convention in Cleveland, Cruz is furiously working to peel off a handful of delegates and make sure they don’t end up in delegate-leader Trump’s column. 

He can do so by targeting congressional districts with the fewest number of registered Republicans. Under the New York GOP’s delegate rules, 14 of the state’s 95 total delegates will be allocated based on the candidate who wins statewide.

The remaining 81 are allocated based on who wins each of New York’s 27 congressional district (three delegates per district).

The allocation is proportional if none of the three candidates wins 50 percent of the vote in each district. But it’s winner-take-all if a candidate reaches the simple majority threshold.

“Each congressional district, regardless of the number of Republicans living within it, has three delegates at stake. So the most cost efficient way to proceed, paradoxically, is to target the most heavily Democratic districts of New York City,” said New York GOP consultant William F. B. O'Reilly.

“Cruz is a shrewd campaigner; he knows what he's doing.”

Cruz’s first foray into the city after Wisconsin, however, shows he may be in for a rough time.

During his Wednesday visit to a Bronx restaurant, a man heckled the Cuban American senator for setting foot in the immigrant-heavy community while pushing harsh immigration policies.  

“You’re running on an anti-immigrant platform, and you’re speaking in the Bronx,” the man yelled at Cruz, according to the Daily News. “You should not be here.”

A second campaign stop in the Bronx, at a local high school, was nixed after students wrote to the principal threatening to walk out of the event.

A day later, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani came out in favor of Trump, and then skewered Cruz: “I can make fun of New York, but you can't.”

That same day, Rep. Peter King, the Long Island Republican, panned the presidential hopeful as a “phony” in cowboy boots.

“Any New Yorker who even thinks of voting for Ted Cruz should have their head examined,” King said on The Joe Piscopo Show. “Really, here’s a guy who refused to sign onto the 9/11 healthcare act for the cops and fireman. Here’s a guy who talks about New York values.”

Cruz first tried out the values line at a January debate, trashing the GOP front-runner and Manhattan billionaire as a New Yorker who “embodies New York values.”

That message may have played well in Christian conservative strongholds like Iowa and South Carolina, but it is looking like a problem in the Empire State, as Cruz is asked at every opportunity about what exactly he’s trying to insinuate about New Yorkers.

In the Bronx, Cruz doubled down on the “New York values” attack, but made sure to clarify he was talking about “liberal Democrats like Andrew Cuomo, like Anthony Weiner, like Eliot Spitzer, like Charlie Rangel — all of whom Donald Trump has supported.”

While Cruz was booed in the Bronx, he got a much better reception at a Thursday rally in Scotia, in the Capital region near Albany, in a blue district represented by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.). Instead of talking up “New York values” though, Cruz opened his speech by proclaiming: “God bless the great state of New York!”

He then headed back to the boroughs, rolling Matzoh at a Jewish community center in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood. That’s part of a majority-black congressional district represented by liberal Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Both Cruz and Kasich will be spending much of the next week and a half in and around New York City, local Republicans predicted.

It’s home to the bulk of the Empire State’s population and the region’s massive media market, which reaches neighboring Connecticut and Pennsylvania — two states that hold primaries just a week after New York.

Cruz and Kasich both want to block Trump from reaching 50 percent of the statewide vote and taking all of the 14 statewide delegates. Doing so would help keep Trump from capturing 1,237 delegates and winning the GOP nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland.

But Kasich took aim at Cruz’s “values” jab as he stumped for delegates in the Bronx this week.

“We love New York values, are you kidding?” Mr. Kasich said as he sat down for a meal at Mike’s Deli, according to the New York Observer. “It’s a great place. I love New York. It means innovation, neighborhoods, great foods, great people. It means everything.”