RENO - The Nevada Republican Convention ended in near pandemonium Saturday after Ron Paul supporters outmaneuvered party leadership and set themselves up to claim nearly all the state's 31 delegates to the national convention.
The end result was that a convention, scheduled to end before 5 p.m. still hadn't selected delegates as of 6 p.m. When convention chairman state Sen. Bob Beers of Las Vegas announced they were out of time and would have to recess to another day; the Paul delegates erupted in jeers, cursing and protests.
But after the recess was called, most of the Clark County delegation and all McCain supporters left the hall at the Peppermill Hotel/Casino. There weren't enough people left to muster a quorum and reconvene.
Beers told the convention they technically had the hall only until 5 p.m.
"We voted this morning to make some changes in the rules that left us on overtime with a day's work left to do," Beers said as he called the recess. "We have a budget. We're now going over. And we don't even have ballots."
Party Chairman Sue Lowden left quietly out a rear exit as the Paul supporters erupted in anger, demanding to continue the debate into the night and choose delegates.
"That's baloney," shouted one man. "I didn't pay to sit through this."
"Beers, you're finished," yelled a woman with a Paul sticker.
Others used stronger language as they gathered around Beers.
A few minutes later, it was reported someone had threatened Beers, who was taken quickly from the hall by security.
"The rhythm of the day forced this free-form fiasco," said Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.
Before he left, Beers offered Paul's Southern Nevada chairman Brian Kominsky a deal, saying he would provide them a complete list of nominees for national delegate and a list of state delegates. He said Lowden would try get the party access to the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas to finish the convention in the next few days.
Kominsky questioned whether the party was really out of time at the Peppermill saying that when he asked, Peppermill officials said the group could have the room for another three hours past their original 5 p.m. deadline.
Kominsky said the decision to shut down came after delegates divided up according to congressional district to select the first nine national delegates - three from each district. While the results weren't released Saturday, Paul supporters were prepared for the vote, with delegate after delegate turning in copies of the same three names in each district. They apparently were well on their way to claiming seven of the nine spots. That gave leadership a clear idea what would happen when they opened the convention to choose the remaining 21 at-large delegates.
It was a monkey wrench Paul strategists devised earlier this year when they flooded county conventions with supporters and won a large share of state convention delegates. They used that leverage to force the convention to open nominations to attend the national convention to the convention floor. The party originally set up a nominations committee which reviewed the list of people wanting to be national delegates and produced a slate of candidates to be considered by the convention as a whole.
That change, and the demand that all delegates be allowed to vote a full slate of national convention delegates and have their votes tallied caused major delays in getting through the agenda Saturday.
Mike Weber of Washoe County, who is planning a run for the Assembly, took over the podium saying if they still had a quorum they would continue to meet. He said they could reconvene, remove Beers as convention chairman and elect a slate of delegates. But after two counts of the remaining delegates, he had to advise the room they were more than 100 short of the 674 needed for a quorum.
Kominsky promised they would be there in force when the convention reconvenes, probably at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.
The delegates eventually chosen will have seats at the Republican National Convention Sept. 1-5 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.