ONTD Political

Nation to Witness Chaotic Phenomenon at RNC Tampa Convention.

10:53 am - 05/03/2012
A Thing of Beauty, Like Witnessing the Implosion of the Universe.

Ron Paul’s Delegate Antics Could Spell Trouble For GOP Convention

With Newt Gingrich finally out of the race, there’s only one other candidate standing between Mitt Romney and the official nomination. And while Ron Paul doesn’t have a chance to stop Romney, he seems poised to make some trouble for him in at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Across the country, fired-up Paul supporters are crashing the delegate-nominating process long after the rest of the party has moved onto the general election. Exploiting a byzantine nominating process that often flies under the radar, supporters are working the system to gain delegate majorities in states Paul lost in the primaries or caucuses (he hasn’t won a single contest outright).

In Louisiana, Paul delegates dominated the state’s caucuses on Saturday — though Paul took just 6 percent of the primary vote there in March — and are on track to repeat their performance in the state convention on June 2. From there, they could control the delegation, or at least have a plurality of its members.

The results were hardly a surprise to those who were paying attention: Paul activists actively prepared for the takeover.

“They’ve invested heavily here and had volunteers and staff members working and preparing [for the caucus],” Jason Doré, executive director of the Louisiana GOP, told TPM. “None of the other campaigns had anything near that kind of time and resources invested in the caucuses. I don’t know that you could really call it much of an upset from that standpoint.”

If Paul can secure a plurality of delegates in just five states, they can try to nominate him from the convention floor in accordance with the convention rules — potentially providing an embarrassing distraction just at the moment the party is supposed to unify on the public stage. According to Josh Putnam, a professor of political science at Davidson College and expert on delegate procedures, Paul’s supporters should “easily” reach that threshold with likely pluralities in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado and Iowa, in addition to Louisiana. And that could just be the tip of the iceberg.

“Broadly speaking, I don’t think anyone has a firm handle on how deep this goes,” Putnam told TPM. “This is a headache for Romney and they’ll have to deal with it at some point.”

The Minnesota convention hasn’t been held yet, but local reports indicate that Paul backers are poised to “dominate” there as well. A spokesperson for the Minnesota Republican Party declined to comment.

In Massachusetts, Paul supporters scored the majority of Romney’s delegates at the state convention this weekend. Although they’re bound by state rules to vote for Romney, their presence could still influence the convention.

In Colorado, supporters got a healthy number of delegates and are expected to control the overall delegation after joining with a large number of uncommitted Santorum delegates at the state convention in April. And in Iowa, Paul supporters secured a pro-Paul state chair and likely control of the state committee that will choose its delegates for the convention.

In other states, Paul activists are making their influence known even if they don’t control the national delegation. In Alaska, they recently installed a pro-Paul party chair at the state convention.

Tracking the phenomenon is made harder in part because the Paul campaign is tight-lipped about its recent success. Doug Wead, a senior adviser to the Paul campaign, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune after their performance at the Louisiana caucuses, “Had we announced, `Hey we’re going to sneak in there and win,’ we probably wouldn’t have won it.”

Paul spokesman Gary Howard told TPM:

As you know, Congressman Paul had the majority of delegates to the Louisiana state convention, and our campaign has been doing well in attaining delegates in Iowa, Minnesota and and other states as well. Picking up the maximum number of delegates going into Tampa has been our campaign’s primary aim, and the recent successes only go to reinforce that.

Hoarding delegates is the primary aim, but to what end? A month or two ago, when there was a distinct possibility Republicans could reach the end of the primaries with no candidate holding a majority of delegates, Paul’s team hoped to use a contested convention as leverage for their demands.

“Our goal is to accumulate delegates and hold the others under 1,144 to force a brokered convention and secure the nomination for Dr. Paul,” Paul spokesman Jesse Benton told TPM in March. “Short of that, fallback goals would be cabinet positions for our allies committed to free markets, major platform changes and perhaps the vice presidential nomination.”

That was then. Preventing Romney from powering to the nomination seems fantastical at this point. At best, they could offer an embarrassing sideshow by putting Paul’s nomination to a vote on the floor, where he’d likely be instantly crushed by Romney’s delegates. While a handful of state delegations could help put Paul supporters on convention committees that determine its platform and rules, they still would likely be swamped by Romney delegates and those of his former opponents. Still, the establishment’s desire to keep the convention orderly and unified in a high-pressure election — without, say, a bunch of motions about the gold standard — might be enough to extract at least some concessions.

“The Ron Paul campaign is trying to accomplish two things: force votes on their issues on the convention floor and in convention meetings and create controversy to help them advance their issues,” Soren Dayton, a Republican strategist who served as a delegate coordinator for John McCain in 2008, told TPM.

This isn’t the first time the GOP has run into these tactics from Paul’s fervent supporters. In 2008, the Nevada Republican Party shut down their state convention to prevent Paul backers from flooding their delegation over supporters of presumptive nominee McCain.

John Ryder, a national GOP committeemen from Tennessee who helped craft this year’s nominating rules, told TPM that Paul delegates shouldn’t be cause for worry come convention time.

“It’s a chance for them to advocate their position and argue for what they believe is the appropriate role of government in America,” he said. “I think it’ll be interesting to watch.”



Ron Paul Racks Up Delegates, Putting GOP Establishment On Edge

A prominent Iowa Republican, and a major supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, did not hesitate to answer when asked recently how many of the Hawkeye State's 28 delegates he expects Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to have heading into the national convention in Tampa this August.

"Twenty," he said.

Conversations with numerous Iowa Republicans confirms the same thing: The state party establishment is dreading a Paul rout on June 15 and 16 at the two-day congressional district/state convention in Des Moines.

"Paul is costing the state a lot of credibility," said Bob Haus, a GOP consultant who most recently headed up Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign in the state.

Another Republican operative who works for a statewide official sounded an even more despondent note.

"It does not sound encouraging. The Paul people are in a position to control the delegates, and the result would be chaotic for the Republican Party of Iowa and bring it to a screeching halt, rendering it completely irrelevant to our efforts here," the Republican aide told The Huffington Post. "Nobody would rely on [the state party] for anything."

After the fiasco earlier this year involving the caucus results, Iowans are nervous that if Paul gets a majority of the delegates, it will endanger their first-in-the-nation primary status. On Jan. 3, Romney was reported the winner, only to have the state GOP announce two weeks later that the result was inconclusive, then to reverse again and say that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was the victor. The party chairman, Matt Strawn, resigned as a result of the confusion.

So the prospect of a third candidate winning the state is causing ulcer-level heartburn, especially since Paul came in third in the popular vote. But that isn't stopping Paul's supporters -- known among other things as Paulites, Paulinistas and to their most critical detractors, Paulbots -- from moving forward with their plan to try to win more delegates in Iowa and other states than was reflected in the popular vote.

Paul is estimated to have won only one delegate thus far in Iowa by most estimates. But the caucus system is essentially a series of rounds of voting, or "delegates electing delegates electing delegates," as a top Paul campaign official put it (click here for a full run down of how the Iowa process works). And Paul supporters are the most engaged with this process.

Jesse Benton, the national chairman for Paul's campaign, told HuffPost that Iowa is not the only place they think they can win a large swath of delegates.

"Iowa is still very much in play, and there is a lot of work to do," Benton said. "However, we are confident of our strength and are working hard. We have similar prospects in seven other states."

Benton told HuffPost last November that the Paul campaign would be competing hard for delegates in Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, Washington and Nevada.

Sure enough, Paul has already won 20 out of the 24 delegates allocated in Minnesota, by winning a majority of the congressional district contests. There are another 13 at-large delegates up for grabs on May 19 at the state convention.

In Maine, Paul is expected to be in the running for at least eight of the state's 24 delegates heading into this weekend's district caucuses and state convention.

In Washington, delegates will be allotted at the state convention at the end of May. And in Nevada, Paul supporters say they hope to turn out about 65 percent of the attendees to the state convention this Saturday and Sunday, as they compete for 25 of the state's 28 delegates. Like in most states, three delegate slots are automatic and go to Nevada's GOP chairman, their national committee man and their national committee woman.

It's not just Iowa Republicans or other state parties that are starting to worry. The national Republican Party is perking up and starting to take notice. The Republican National Committee's chief counsel, John R. Phillippe Jr., on Wednesday sent a letter to the Nevada GOP chairman, Michael McDonald, essentially warning him that the state party should prevent Paul supporters from taking over this weekend's state convention.

"Each candidate is entitled to have delegates supporting him elected to the delegate slots that he earned in the Presidential Preference Poll," Phillippe wrote, referring to the results of the Feb. 4 caucus, which Romney won with 50 percent of the popular vote.

Jon Ralston, the chief political writer for the Las Vegas Sun, wrote late Wednesday that the RNC appears to fear Paul supporters "taking Mitt Romney slots and then not abiding by GOP rules to vote for the presumptive nominee on the first ballot in Tampa."

Phillippe's letter threatens that the RNC may not seat the entire Nevada delegation at the convention in Tampa if it has reason to believe that the Paul supporters have captured more delegate slots than the rules allow.

Benton, in an email exchange with HuffPost, wouldn't name the last two states where the campaign has prospects and is competing hard for delegates. But there has been plenty of attention around the success of Paul's supporters in Louisiana and Massachusetts over the past few days. In Louisiana, Paulites "dominated" the congressional district caucuses this past Saturday, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Paul's supporters carried four of the state's congressional districts, and are guaranteed at least 17 of 46 delegates in the Bayou State, with the potential to pick up more at the state convention on June 2.

The other state that Benton likely has his eye on is Colorado, where the Denver Post reported in mid-April that Paul supporters and Santorum backers combined forces to win a "stunning upset" at the state convention, guaranteeing that about half of the state's 33 delegates will be for Paul in August.

And there are other states where Paul can pick up delegates, or where he has reportedly already picked off a few: Alaska, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Romney's home state of Massachusetts is a special case. Because Romney won the popular vote in the state's March 6 primary, all 38 delegates are bound by party rules to support him on the first ballot at the national convention. But in the congressional district conventions this past weekend, Paul supporters captured 16 delegate spots out of 27 that were elected (another 11 at-large delegates are elected at the state committee meeting on June 15).

If the RNC is concerned about Paul supporters from Nevada defying the rules on the first ballot in Tampa, that worry could extend to the Massachusetts delegates.

Despite the drama, it's still not clear what immediate tangible benefit these delegates will yield for Paul and his devoted followers. Romney still appears to be set to reach 1,144 delegates, the number he needs to clinch the nomination.

But at the very least, Paul's delegate total and the willingness of his supporters to vote for him on the floor in Tampa is certain to draw attention to his cause and his message of limited government. It seems somewhat unlikely that Paul would forego the chance to see his supporters give the GOP establishment fits on the convention floor, under a nationally televised microscope, simply to gain a better speaking slot at the four-day event.

So he may be simply building a movement with a view toward giving his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a head start for the 2016 race.

And some Republicans said he has already succeeded in pushing the Republican Party so far to the right on fiscal and budgetary matters that it has paid tangible dividends at the legislative level.

"There are a lot of establishment Republicans who need to thank Ron Paul for injecting a certain amount of courage to do what people always said needed to be done but where they also said, 'How do we do that?'" Iowa state Rep. Erik Helland said.

Helland said that in 2011, the legislature "deappropriated" $500 million over three years from programs such as state-mandated pre-school, government employee benefits and other programs that usually cause an outcry. Helland, who is the majority whip, said that on the Monday after they announced the spending cuts, he got back to Des Moines and "braced" himself for news of outrage from other state representatives who had spent the weekend meeting with constituents.

"They came back and said, 'We talked to our voters, they want to cut more,'" Helland said. "It was paradigm shifting. The voters started actually saying, 'cut.'"

Helland said he gives credit to Paul, who has spent a lot of time in Iowa over the past several years, for changing the political culture.

"Paul staked out such an aggressive dialogue on cutting government that some of the steps we've taken in the legislature and at the federal level are possible because Ron Paul talked about it to the extent that it became politically palatable," Helland said.

"Ron Paul is the most successful presidential candidate in the last couple decades, even though he hasn't won the election," he continued. "He has shaped the dialogue."

HuffPost's Jon Ward reports that Paul's campaign and supporters have been efficient at locking up delegates from the Iowa caucus and beyond:

Sure enough, Paul has already won 20 out of the 24 delegates allocated in Minnesota, by winning a majority of the congressional district contests. There are another 13 at-large delegates up for grabs on May 19 at the state convention.

In Maine, Paul is expected to be in the running for at least eight of the state's 24 delegates heading into this weekend's district caucuses and state convention.

In Washington, delegates will be allotted at the state convention at the end of May. And in Nevada, Paul supporters say they hope to turn out about 65 percent of the attendees to the state convention this Saturday and Sunday, as they compete for 25 of the state's 28 delegates. Like in most states, three delegate slots are automatic and go to Nevada's GOP chairman, their national committee man and their national committee woman.

It's not just Iowa Republicans or other state parties that are starting to worry. The national Republican Party is perking up and starting to take notice. The Republican National Committee's chief counsel, John R. Phillippe Jr., on Wednesday sent a letter to the Nevada GOP chairman, Michael McDonald, essentially warning him that the state party should prevent Paul supporters from taking over this weekend's state convention.

bludstone 4th-May-2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
>And also, to repeal all laws that protect the environment so polluters can pollute as much as they want to.

Pollution is illegal under libertarian society under basic property laws. Regulations are what big companies use to skirt paying full damages after major disasters. There would be more direct consequences for polluting someone else's property under a libertarian society.

At least thats the theory.

>Repeal all laws that protect wetlands and other delicate habitats so that anyone can destroy those habitats and wipe out all life living there.

Im pretty sure they will just leave those up to the states. Some environmental protection laws are good, some are bad.

>They are such good people.

Eh, Ive met a ton of them. Its a mix. Ive met everything from business-owners to people that have been screwed over by the government to amateur philosophers to idiot fox news heads to organic hippy farmers, a guy who sells hemp products, gun nuts (the "makes you uncomfortable" type), ive seen pretty much all races and religions. Muslims, hardcore christians, a number of athiests.. Oh and a surprising number of young immigrants, but maybe that was just a local phenomenon. It was a pretty wide net of folks tbh.

I dont regularly hang out with them as a group though. Too fight-minded for my tastes, not enough willingness to just relax and have some fun, maybe argue politics once in a while.
farchivist 6th-May-2012 01:31 pm (UTC)
At least thats the theory.

In theory, yup. In practice, you'll have to sue for damages. And BigCorp will just keep it in litigation for 15-20 years, exhausting your financial resources, until you are willing to accept the settlement BigCorp is interested in giving you. We have the time and money; you, individual(s), do not.

bludstone 6th-May-2012 01:38 pm (UTC)
Unlike now, where the lawyer for the corporation is the head of the federal regulator, and you are blocked from successfully suing for damages at all.

Again, we are looking for more liability, not less.
farchivist 7th-May-2012 01:27 am (UTC)
Have as much liability as you want. You still have to WIN the court case to get damages. The amount of liability present does nothing to prevent that from being strung out for years.
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