The Republican National Committee tentatively ruled to strip Texas Congressman Ron Paul of half of his Maine delegates to the Tampa national convention next week.
Paul came in a close second to Romney in the February/March county caucuses (the vote difference was less than 200 votes, less than two percent of the total), but Paul supporters were able to organize and gain the upper hand in the May state party convention that actually selected the delegates. Paul supporters won all 20 of the conventions' delegates on narrow votes, though Maine will also send four at-large delegates to the convention that include the governor and a few other senior elected officials.
Ron Paul supporters told the Portland Press Herald August 24 that their position was: "No compromise, no deal." Paul supporters are appealing the decision with the GOP's Committee on Contests. Ron Paul supporters who took over state conventions in Louisiana and Massachusetts agreed to compromises with the Republican National Committee earlier this month, resulting in denial of their plurality of delegates.
The RNC has produced a 26-page report on the Maine state convention that the Bangor Daily News described as “scathing” about irregularities at the convention, but it's unclear if the report details any actual party rules being broken. Some Romney supporters charged at the Maine state convention that GOP officials had not properly counted votes or credentialed delegates.
Maine Governor Paul LePage has threatened in a spokesman's Facebook statement not to attend the Tampa Convention if the Paul-aligned delegates are not credentialed in Tampa. LePage and his spokesman are both Romney supporters, but believe the convention was properly conducted. After the Maine state GOP convention in May, State Chairman Charlie Webster told the press that he was unaware of any rules that were broken by the convention. “I'm not aware of anything like that at all,” Webster told a local television station back in May. “We're going to fight to get our delegates seated in Tampa, that's our position. That's what we're ready to do.”
“Over 2500 duly elected Maine Republican delegates went to Augusta and we had a democratic election,” incoming National Committeewoman for Maine Ashley Ryan complained on a Paul-aligned website. “The RNC and the Mitt Romney Campaign cannot invalidate Maine’s voice simply because they didn’t like the outcome.”
Despite the back-room delegate wrangling, the Tampa GOP confab will toss a bouquet or two to the elder Paul, though he is not scheduled to speak at the GOP convention. Congressman Paul's son, Kentucky's junior U.S. Senator Rand Paul, is scheduled to address the convention Monday. The convention will also feature a video tribute to the retiring elder Paul on Tuesday. As in 2008, Paul is hosting his own Tampa convention across town from the RNC convention.
Regardless of the outcome of the Maine dispute, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is expected to win the nomination. The Romney campaign has been able to select about three quarters of the delegates expected to attend the Tampa convention next week.
Photo: The Tampa Bay Times Forum, lower, right, the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention: AP Images