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Cruz Leads Idaho, Running Second in Three Other States

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Katie Bailey | The Texas Tribune
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Senator Ted Cruz speaks to Texas reporters in Columbia following the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, Saturday night, February 20, 2016.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was on track Tuesday night to win the the Idaho GOP presidential primary, while placing second in three other states.

Cruz was projected to win the nominating contest in the Gem State with nearly all precincts reporting. He was beating billionaire Donald Trump by 17 points, 45 percent to 28 percent.

Trump was already projected to handily win the primaries in Michigan and Mississippi. Early Wednesday morning, Trump was declared the winner in the fourth contest of Tuesday, the Hawaii caucuses.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night came in Michigan, where Cruz was edging out Ohio Gov. John Kasich for second place by less than 1 percent. With almost all precincts reporting, Cruz had 24.9 percent to 24.3 percent for Kasich, who had put much more effort into the state.

Trump was headed toward wide margins over Cruz in Michigan (12 points), Mississippi (11 points) and Hawaii (13 points). Yet Cruz stayed in the delegate hunt with Trump in all four states and was set to capture more delegates Tuesday night than any of his non-Trump rivals.

Cruz entered Tuesday looking to solidify his status as the chief alternative to Trump, whom the senator has expressed confidence he can beat in a two-man race. The emerging results helped reinforce that status, giving Cruz another wave of momentum heading into the first winner-take-all contests a week from now.

Tuesday also saw the continued decline of U.S. Marco Rubio of Florida, who was on track to miss key thresholds to collect delegates in Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho. Cruz is holding a rally Wednesday morning in Miami as part of an effort to keep Rubio from winning his home state when its voters head to the polls March 15.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2016/03/08/cruz-fights-2nd-mich-set-runner-miss/.