Stephanie Grace Notes: In Louisiana, Donald Trump stumbles over the art of the deal _lowres

FILE - In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks in Vandalia, Ohio. Trump wants to win the White House in November. House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to save the Republican Party for the future. Those goals put Trump and Ryan increasingly at odds over both tone and substance as the billionaire businessman barrels toward the GOP presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Like so much of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the candidate’s complaint about Louisiana’s delegate process is, well, free-form.

First Trump announced to the world that he planned to sue. “Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz,” he wrote on Twitter, a medium that doesn’t exactly lend itself to detailed explanations.

Then one of his aides said the “lawsuit” Trump promised would actually be a challenge to the delegation’s certification through the Republican National Committee rather than the courts.

As for the specific allegations, we’ll have to wait for the paperwork, if it ever arrives, to nail that down.

Concerns aired by Trump and his camp so far have included the simple fact that he and chief rival Ted Cruz, who finished a close second in Louisiana’s March 5 primary, were each awarded 18 delegates based on a state party formula that allotted some based on statewide vote and others according to the results in each congressional district.

And that the since-departed Marco Rubio was awarded five delegates who will now be free agents and who are considered likely to go for Cruz, as will the additional five delegates who were always slated to head to Cleveland uncommitted.

And that the party gave Cruz supporters key roles on committees that will help determine how an expected convention face-off will go down, in a process that may or may not have been fixed. All of this inside baseball may not have seemed important when Trump launched his unorthodox campaign, but as the odds grow that nobody will win an outright majority of delegates, his campaign is belatedly focusing on the arcane delegate process.

Now, there are a couple of decent points buried in there. When it comes to the presidential nominating process, the Louisiana Republican Party has a long history of using opaque rules to steer power and perks to insiders. By historic standards, Trump actually did pretty well this year; while the party used to choose a sizable portion of its delegation by a process that had nothing to do with the popular vote, this year national party rules dictated that most delegates abide by the primary results on the first ballot.

Still, the gist of Trump’s complaint at this point boils down to the fact that he got outmaneuvered, that for all his bluster, maybe he’s not so great at cutting the best deals -- or at winning -- after all.

How ironic is that?

‘Grace notes’ is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.