Ron Paul forces staged organizational coups this weekend in Nevada and Maine, where they won a majority of the delegates who will represent their states at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. In addition, Paul won most of the delegates thus far selected by the Iowa GOP. The coups follow up Paul campaign victories a week earlier in Louisiana and Massachusetts, where Paul supporters dominated district caucuses.
In Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney won the primary by a huge margin earlier in the year, all Ron Paul supporters chosen as delegates to the national convention are pledged to vote for Romney on the first ballot. In Nevada, most of the Paul delegates are bound to support Romney on the first ballot. However, in other states, such as Maine and Iowa, the delegates are not bound by the earlier state contests.
The Portland Press-Herald reported May 5 that Paul supporters in Maine succeeding in electing their own state convention chairman over the GOP establishment's choice by a mere four votes, demonstrating their clout and setting the tone for the rest of the convention. “Paul supporter Brent Tweed edged Charles Cragin 1,118 to 1,114 in a very close vote,” the Portland Press-Herald reported.
The two-day convention then went on to elect as delegates 21 Paul supporters who will comprise 87.5 percent of the state's 24-member delegation to Tampa. This lop-sided Paul victory occurred despite a narrow official Romney win of about 100 votes in caucuses earlier in the year (though there were numerous voting irregularities that could have changed the vote total). Paul supporters have essentially taken over the Maine GOP, though some Paul supporters found the term a bit dramatic. “Takeover is strong word; we’re all registered Republicans here,” Paul supporter Matthew McDonald told the Bangor Daily News. “But Chairman Webster called Ron Paul supporters wingnuts, he saw us as a fringe minority; now we hold the power of the convention.”
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Photo of GOP state convention in Maine: AP Images