Sunday, 03 June 2012

Louisiana GOP Convention Splits; Ron Paul Wins Majority Convention

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A Ron Paul supporter was arrested and emerged with broken fingers and another was reportedly given a dislocated hip after a June 2 Louisiana Republican convention split into two groups. According to Hamdan Azhar at, the majority convention backed Paul, and the Texas Congressman will send 27 of 46 Louisiana delegates to the Republican national convention this summer in Tampa. However, GOP establishment forces, who constituted a minority of the delegates in attendance, pledged to send a different, less Paul-friendly delegation to Tampa despite opposition by local Romney campaign officials. 

Paul supporter Henry Herford, Jr. was arrested by police after the convention voted to make him chairman and oust the establishment-appointed chairman, and in the process of his arrest Herford's hip was reportedly dislocated. Also, Rules Committee Chairman Alex Helwig, another Paul supporter, was arrested by police. Helwig returned to the convention with broken fingers and walking with the aid of a cane after a brief police custody. 

According to Paul campaign sources, state convention delegates supporting Ron Paul balked at new Louisiana convention rules that allowed campaigns to pick delegates rather than the state convention and then voted out the establishment-picked chairman with a majority of the delegates. 

GOP officials had been prompted to change the rules because of warnings from former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's presidential campaign, which complained of “delegate stealing” in a communication with the Louisiana state GOP after the Paul campaign out-organized the other candidates in other state conventions. "We just tightened up the rules. We made it more responsible so that delegates for those candidates would be elected," Minority Convention Credential Committee Chairman Jeff Giles told KTBS, the ABC-TV affiliate in Shreveport, Louisiana. "Instead of Ron Paul people posing as supporters of those candidates."

Ironically, rule changes had been made by many state Republican organizations in 2010 and 2011 to allow runaway conventions to benefit the Romney campaign in case the establishment-favored candidate lost too many primaries and caucuses. Even more ironically, local Romney campaign officials openly backed the Paul campaign's control of the majority convention and received enthusiastic praise from Paul campaign officials. Ron Paul campaign chairman John Tate thanked Romney campaign officials for ensuring that all Paul delegates elected in the Paul majority convention would be seated in the Tampa GOP national convention: 

Delegates to the state convention were chosen at caucus meetings on April 28th.  Ron Paul slates won four of six congressional district contests.  Of the approximately 180 delegates attending the state convention, 113 voted to remove the LAGOP chairman when he failed to respond to requests for information and other motions from delegates.  Nearly two-thirds of the delegates began physically moving their chairs, literally turning their back on the GOP chair appointed by the party hierarchy.

In another instance, State Central Committeeman and Ron Paul supporter Henry Herford Jr. of Franklin Parrish was attacked by some security officials who didn’t realize that the body had voted out the previous chairman.  Mr. Herford has a prosthetic hip and according to a doctor at the scene it appears as though the prosthetic was dislocated and may require replacement.  The injury occurred as he was beginning to call to order the newly re-formed convention.

In yet another instance, Ron Paul supporter Alex Helwig, Chairman of the Rules Committee who made the motion to remove the chair, was arrested by Shreveport police and released.  During his brief detainment, some of his fingers were broken and when he returned to the event he was walking with aid of a cane.

By 10:50 a.m. today, the newly formed convention completed its work.  Newly-elected national delegates met with the Romney campaign’s Louisiana Chairman, Scott Sewell, who graciously said ‘that he supported the effort and would do everything he could to make sure the delegation was seated’ in Tampa.

Ron Paul Campaign spokesman Doug Wead charged that “Ron Paul supporters are enduring false arrests, detainment, broken bones and slander as they simply exercise their constitutional rights of voting and participating in party politics.” Wead blamed establishment GOP officials officials who ordered the rule changes and tried to break up the majority convention led by Paul delegates. 

Paul campaign official blogger Jack Hunter concluded of the melee at the Louisiana GOP state convention: “Thanks to the Romney campaign for stepping in and taking the high road. Thanks to Paul supporters who have taken the high road since the beginning by playing by the rules — and winning — whether some in the establishment like it or not.”

Photo of Ron Paul: AP Images

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