COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s not easy being a Donald Trump supporter in Colorado.
Becky Mizel, a prominent Trump volunteer and former county party chairwoman in the state, was standing at the entrance to the Colorado GOP Convention, waving a slate of delegates the Trump campaign has endorsed to send to the national convention.
With her arm still in the air, she needled a volunteer tasked with setting up Trump signs outside of the arena where the convention is being held, and was upset because the placards went missing.
“Somebody stole them,” Mizel said under her breath, sounding irritated but unsurprised. The state party convention, she readily admitted, is not really Trump’s crowd — and that’s part of the reason she doesn’t expect much to come from the slate Saturday.
“We know we’re not going to take anything out of (the slate), but it was mostly an emotional shot in the arm for the Trump people who are here because they were feeling demoralized because nothing is here,” she told NBC News.
“Just having a table and signs made them go, 'Oh, we’re not alone, there’s other Trump people.' It’s more of a psychological edge,” she said.
Mizel admitted that she would be happy if they take one or two delegates. So far, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has swept all 21 of the state’s delegates already elected at the congressional district level.
On Saturday, an estimated 4,000 party activists will elect the state’s remaining 13 delegates, and Cruz, Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have produced slates of their preferred candidates.
The campaigns are all whipping votes for their slates at the convention — but not all organizations are equal.
Mizel has been asking the Trump campaign for “a long time" to have a presence in the state, she said, but until this week, they chose to focus their resources elsewhere.
“We could have had some things going, but the campaign decided to not put resources here,” she said.
Trump was originally expected to speak at the Saturday convention, but canceled all of his West Coast events to focus on the New York primary.
On Tuesday, the campaign fired the staffer tasked with overseeing Trump’s Colorado operation, but Mizel said she’d only met him once — on the Friday before.
On Wednesday, they hired a local operative to take the helm, but he told NBC News on Friday that it has been like “drinking from a fire hose” to try to organize Trump supporters since he came on board.
Mizel put a cheery spin on the Trump campaign’s absence from the state — “I understand finances, and understand they don’t have a huge operation,” she said — but it’s all but ensured the slate Mizel is waving will amount to little more than a piece of paper when the convention votes Saturday.
To really organize for a convention like this one, she said, it takes “a bit of money and a full-time person.”
Cruz’s campaign hasn’t spent any money on staff in the state, but they have been organizing for months, their delegate effort led by a prominent local Tea Party leader with wide and deep connections in the state.
A team of volunteers gathered early Saturday morning to start organizing for the convention; volunteers wearing fluorescent orange T-shirts emblazoned with Cruz’s preferred slate dotted the walk outside the arena, passing out paper copies.
The Cruz campaign has organized a team of at least a dozen volunteers tasked with convincing shaky delegates to stick firm with the Texas senator, each one assigned to a key issue that might most resonate with the delegate in question: pro-life, gun rights, Common Core and more.
And they have more than 30 volunteers wrangling votes from the state’s counties to make sure Cruz’s expected numeric advantage in the 4,000 delegates gathered for the convention will produce an advantage in the slate.
Still, Mizel is holding Trump’s slate high. At the very least, they have tables stacked with literature, Trump signs and stickers to identify supporters and a sign-up sheet for volunteers. And at the very least, she’s made the effort.
“I had to say, 'OK, Colorado’s probably not it,'" Mizel said. "I’m sad, but I did try.”