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Depriving Donald Trump of the Republican nomination will not be pretty.

David McNew/Getty Images

It is becoming clear that Ted Cruz is in a position to wrest the nomination away from Trump if Trump fails to secure an outright majority of delegates before the party’s convention in July. The Washington Post reports that Cruz “is close to ensuring that Donald Trump cannot win the GOP nomination on a second ballot,” which is when 60 percent of delegates become free to vote for whomever they want. (In the case of a third ballot, 80 percent of delegates are unbound, further increasing Cruz’s chances.) Trump is already calling Cruz’s under-the-radar campaign to secure the loyalty of delegates an attempt to steal the election. “Our Republican system is absolutely rigged. It’s a phony deal,” he told the Times. “They wanted to keep people out. This is a dirty trick.”

At this point, it seems unlikely that Cruz can emerge from a contested convention with a solid mandate to lead the party. Trump will make sure that Cruz’s nomination is seen as illegitimate, at least to his own supporters. Already, Trump’s goons are threatening delegates who have pledged loyalty to Cruz; as Steve House, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, told the Post, he has received thousands of phone calls, “with many being the trashiest you can imagine,” after the state’s 34 delegates swung for Cruz. Just imagine what those supporters will do in real time, on the floor of the convention, as they watch the nomination slip away from a candidate who has won a plurality of votes.