The Republican Establishment is afraid of Ron Paul and events that took place at party nominating conventions from Maine to Alaska proved that it’s for good reason.
Despite the efforts of Republican officialdom to marginalize Ron Paul and promote Mitt Romney, supporters of the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman are enjoying remarkable success in having their delegates elected at the state GOP nominating conventions being held nationwide in advance of the Republican Convention that will take place in Tampa in August.
Irrefutable proof of the commitment of those very active voters who want to see Ron Paul succeed Barack Obama is found in the numbers of them who show up and fight for inclusion on the slate of delegates that will eventually represent their states at the national convention.
While certainly laudable and impressively clever, will the delegate strategy pay off for Paul and land him on Pennsylvania Ave?
After all, although Paul’s path to the presidency may be a steep climb, if he is able to continue amassing delegates in the state conventions, then he may be able to force a fracture among the throng at the national convention or exert pressure on the platform committee to include more Paul-friendly planks.
That isn’t to suggest that a brokered convention is a foregone conclusion or even a distinct possibility, however. It also doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
A survey of the performance of Ron Paul’s backers at several state conventions is worth taking and Mitt Romney’s people may want to read it and take heed.First, at the Maine convention, three words were used to describe the scene at the Augusta Civic Center: Chaos, turmoil, and insane. When the smoke cleared, the Paul platoon had united and their man, Brent Tweed was elected chairman of the state convention.
The victory for the Paul campaign in Maine did not come without a firefight, however, that included charges from the Romney camp of ballot fraud and violation of party rules. None of the charges stuck and Tweed defeated the more mainstream Republican candidate by only four votes. Paul backers were also able to propel their cohorts onto victory in several down ballot spots, as well.
The domination by the Ron Paul bloc was so complete that by the time the last folding chair was put away at the two-day convention, they had used the rules of parliamentary procedure to their advantage and walked away with 20 of 24 of the state’s national delegates. Those delegates will be in Tampa and there is nothing forcing them to cast their votes for Mitt Romney.
Nothing except the presence of a Romney lawyer at the convention and the threat of legal action by the GOP Establishment in Maine challenging the results of the voting.
"They [Paul supporters] have so phenomenally screwed this up that they will go to Tampa and not be seated," said Charles Cragin, a Romney supporter who lost his bid to chair the convention to Tweed.
Giving no heed to the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Republican Establishment, the Ron Paul Revolution marched on firing another shot heard round the world in the home of Lexington and Concord.
In Massachusetts, less than half of the delegate candidates in favor of former governor Romney were elected, with Paul taking the majority. This is the sort of math that must drive Romney’s people mad. The “presumptive nominee” should take no solace from the gentleman’s agreement that dictates that delegates vote for Romney when the roll is called in Tampa. The black letter of the rules prescribe no such fealty.
Rick Santorum’s former constituents delivered delegates for Ron Paul, as well, despite having gone for Romney in the primary elections. Paul picked up five delegates from Pennsylvania.
In Louisiana, Paul’s people “dominated the caucuses” and won four out of six congressional districts and tied in a fifth, giving Ron Paul a huge majority of the Tampa-bound delegates. Once again, the numbers are not adding up for Mitt Romney’s coronation.
Iowa, traditionally believed to be a bellwether state for the national contest in November, now has a majority of Ron Paul supporters on the state’s GOP Central Committee. Having their hands on the helm of the Hawkeye State’s Republican party will likely lead to a large number of their delegates coming from the ever growing group of Ron Paul believers. According to an article in the Iowa Republican, Ron Paul will be awarded 10 of the state's 28 delegates.
State conventions aren’t the only theaters in the war for the White House where the Paul camp is coming off victorious. In similar gatherings held in congressional districts in Minnesota, 20 of the 24 delegates selected there support Ron Paul. The remaining delegates will be chosen at the state convention and things are setting up very nicely for Paul there, as well.
Elsewhere, the wild, wild, west lived up to its historic reputation for lawlessness as Nevadans working to elect delegates employed some of the same strategies that successfully saw their kind seated in Maine and once again the Romney people were fighting mad.
The Silver State skirmish lasted all day and all night, a “sheer battle of wills” that ended early Sunday morning with increased acrimony between the Ron Paul contingency and those more "moderate" Republicans who felt blindsided by the power of Paul.
So personal and so bitter was the situation in the venue known as “the Nugget” that rumors roiled that those loyal to Mitt Romney passed around a fake ballot purporting to list Ron Paul delegates while actually containing the names of several Romney candidates, as well as containing misspellings of the names of key state party personnel. The Romney campaign denies participating in any such shenanigans.
While they undoubtedly had their way with the delegate election process (22 out of 25 were committed to Ron Paul), the Ron Paul people will not escape the wrath of a national GOP Establishment that will not allow anyone to rain on the “presumptive nominee’s” parade.
Proof that the indignation and the determination of Republican officialdom was already brewing before the lid was blown off the party’s pot in Vegas is found in a report from Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun. Ralston writes, “In a letter delivered Wednesday to GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, the RNC's chief counsel said if Ron Paul delegates are allowed to take too many slots for the national convention, Nevada's entire contingent may not be seated in Tampa.”
In his article, Ralston included a link to the RNC’s letter wherein its chief counsel put a pretty fine point on the issue, warning the Nevada GOP that he believes “it is highly likely that any committee with jurisdiction over the matter would find improper any change to the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegates, thus jeopardizing the seating of Nevada’s entire delegation to the National Convention.” Put simply: Nevada’s delegates must support Romney or their delegation’s vote will be nullified.
Finally, as we reported last week, Alaska’s GOP leadership was actively blocking Ron Paul supporters from being elected as delegates to the national convention. According to stories out of Alaska, outgoing GOP State Chairman Randy Reudrich was trying to “disenfranchise Paul and other non-Romney delegates to the party’s upcoming state convention.”
Although Paul supporters managed to have one of their own elected to replace Reudrich, he and his like-minded co-chairman were unable to effect a timely rule change and Ron Paul will receive only six of the state’s total delegation instead of the full slate of 24 they were hoping for.
Ron Paul’s campaign understands the importance of keeping its eyes on the big prey: the White House and not being distracted by the lesser quarry that are primaries that are often no more than popularity contests.
“Taken together, these victories and those yet to happen forecast a prominent role for Ron Paul at the RNC,” said Ron Paul 2012 campaign manager John Tate. “They also signal that the convention will feature a spirited discussion over whether conservatism will triumph over the status quo,” Tate predicted.
For now, the Republican Establishment sits at headquarters watching its playhouse being torn down room by room by Ron Paul’s growing battalion of backers. The lingering question going forward is whether there will be a final showdown in Tampa or will the powers that be manage to reduce the revolution that started with a bang to nothing more than a whimper.