Paul backers get revenge at GOP fete | NevadaAppeal.com

Paul backers get revenge at GOP fete

• This story first appeared Sunday on nevadaappeal.com.

Ron Paul supporters effectively crushed Mitt Romney backers at the state Republican Party convention over the weekend.

Angered by the disastrous 2008 state convention, which was arbitrarily shut down to prevent Paul supporters from taking over, they spent the last four years organizing to make sure it didn’t happen again – and sent many more delegates to this state convention than Romney.

They not only installed their representatives as national committeeman and committeewoman; they claimed 22 of the open 25 national delegate seats.

But not satisfied with those victories, they seriously considered on Sunday moving to “unbind” the Paul supporters who would, under national GOP rules, be required to vote for Romney on the first ballot. By midmorning, cooler heads had prevailed, and the Paul troops decided not to push that issue.

Paul’s Nevada director, Carl Bunce, took the podium to settle that argument.

“There have been rumors the Ron Paul campaign has been working to break the rules, unbind the delegates,” he said.

Bunce said that isn’t true – that Paul supporters “will follow the rules, follow the constitution.”

Had they attempted to unbind the delegates, the national party would have had to decide whether to seat the Nevada delegation at the national convention. National officials had already warned Nevada party officials that there would be sanctions if they failed to follow the rules.

Nevada Republican Party Secretary Jim DeGraffenreid said he is confident the Paul delegates chosen would honor their commitment to follow the rules.

Under the results of caucus voting in February, Romney is supposed to get 20 of the 28 delegate votes on the first ballot at the national convention.

Paul supporters are working to prevent Romney from getting the nomination on the first ballot, at which point those delegates are unbound and free to vote for whomever they wish. In that situation, Romney supporters would have only six of Nevada’s 28 delegates. In addition to the three CD2 supporters, Romney would get the support of outgoing national committeeman Bob List and national committeewoman Heidi Smith. They were unseated in Saturday’s elections but will remain in those posts until their newly elected replacements are seated at the end of the national convention in Florida. He would also have the vote of state party Chairman Michael McDonald.

Paul supporters began celebrating Saturday night after Jim Smack unseated List and Diana Orrock took the national committeewoman’s post away from Smith.

Paul supporters erupted in cheers Sunday morning as the list of at-large delegates was read and they realized they took all 13 slots. When the results of the elections were finished, they had also won all the delegates for three of the four congressional districts as well. Only in CD2 did Romney supporters win delegate seats.

After the process was completed, Smack – who was interim party chairman for the past three months – took the podium to take responsibility for how the contentious convention rolled out.

“I’ve been promising for months this would be a smooth-running convention,” he said. “I hate it when I have to break that promise because this wasn’t as smooth a convention as I hoped it would be.”

Saturday’s meeting dragged, with numerous challenges and repeated demands for tallied votes on different motions instead of simple voice votes. That included a lengthy argument over whether some 400 delegates should be removed from the convention because they registered after the 9 a.m. deadline. Paul supporters were finally advised that, since there is no time stamp on delegate badges, there is no way to determine who registered after 9 a.m.

The convention was recessed just before midnight Saturday after convention officials and delegates realized counting the delegate ballots would take hours. Party officials said in the morning that the count wasn’t actually finished until an hour before the convention reconvened at 9 a.m.