GOP Anti-Romney Revolt Continues;Now Washington Follows Colorado Into the Paul Camp
As with the article AT THIS LINK yesterday which reported on the Santorum hard-liners joining with Paulite's to give the majority of Colorado's delegates to Ron Paul the rank and file in Washington state have followed suit with their own "anyone but Romney" caucus.
Once again the fact of Romney, at 41% of the primary vote (see stats at the link) compared to 59% for non-Romney is proving the weakest candidate ever from his own party. The conservative element may well sit this election out as they are fed up with the Dole/McCain/Romney establishment choices at last.
BY MIKE FAULK
If the race for the Republican nomination is winding down in favor of Mitt Romney, it appears no one told that to Ron Paul’s supporters here.
A coalition of Paul organizers and anti-Romney conservatives came out in force at Saturday’s Yakima County Republican Convention and left with a majority of the county’s delegates to the state convention.
At least 27 of the 44 elected state Republican delegates from Yakima County were on a slate of candidates circulated by the grass-roots coalition of Paul supporters before voting took place.
Romney supporters, joined by former allies of rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, had also circulated a slate of candidates. But many had to settle for being elected as alternate delegates or not at all.
"We wanted to have an open convention, not a coronation," said Autumn Torres, 35, a Paul supporter and delegate from the county’s 3rd Commissioner District.
Sandy Belzer of Yakima, county coordinator for the Paul campaign and a delegate to the county convention, said Paul supporters held two training sessions on Robert’s Rules of Order in the lead-up to the convention. Their organization and familiarity with parliamentary procedure paid off, Belzer said.
"We’ve got a team of people who could make a difference down the road" at the state convention, Belzer said. "It ain’t over."
Romney needs 1,144 delegates to the Republican National Convention to clinch the nomination, but the ferocity of Paul’s grass-roots supporters coupled with lingering dissatisfaction among the more conservative supporters of Santorum and Gingrich could still threaten his chances.
State Republicans will vote to send 43 delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla., when they convene in Tacoma May 31 to June 2.
Delegates to the state convention are not bound to any candidate and did not have to declare who they support when they are voted on at the county level. Romney supporters Saturday attempted to compel nominees to announce who they supported, but Paul supporters were quick to point out that was against procedure.
Afterward, Paul’s supporters compared their slate of candidates with the names of delegates who were elected, revealing that 27 intend to vote for Paul at the state convention.
Delegate nominees for the national convention are required to announce which candidate they support before they are voted on at the state convention.
Five of the county’s 49 state delegate slots went unfilled at Saturday’s convention, which was held at Davis High School, because the adopted rules for the convention stipulated that it end at 3 p.m. Paul supporters tried earlier in the day to strike the 3 p.m. deadline but had the motion voted down.
Voting for delegates was conducted in a series of rounds, and delegates in the county’s 1st Commissioner District had only elected 16 of their allotted 21 delegates when time ran out.
They tried to strike the deadline again at 3 p.m. but were denied a vote by county GOP chairman Max Golladay, who adjourned the convention. Paul supporters expressed frustration with the convention’s abrupt ending, believing they could have won more delegates.
"(Golladay) knows darn well there were at least four Ron Paul delegates in that last vote" in the 1st Commissioner District, local delegate J.J. Sandlin said.
Paul supporters said they elected only three out of the 16 delegates from the 1st Commissioner District, which encompasses much of the city of Yakima and the northwest parts of the county.
Before adjourning, Golladay told the crowd he hoped the next convention would go more smoothly, and afterward said the end result was consistent with the adopted rules of the convention.
"There were published rules for all to see," Golladay said. "I think it was as fair as we could do it."
Nearly the first two hours of the convention, which began at 10 a.m., were taken up by debates over procedural motions and whether to allow one delegate back in who was disqualified because his name had been misspelled on a previous ballot. The disqualified delegate later withdrew his request for readmission.
"I think it was poorly organized," county delegate Yolanda McGrann, 63, said. "I think people were rushing to get through."
In a telephone interview, state GOP chairman Kirby Wilbur said the unfilled delegate spots cannot be filled once a county convention has been adjourned. Wilbur said previous conventions this year in Chelan and Clark counties also ended without a full slate of delegates being elected.
He said the high turnout at caucuses and conventions statewide led to complications because of a lack of familiarity with the process and delays in counting the large number of votes.
"Who turns out is what matters," Wilbur said. "You can win at the straw poll level, but if you don’t turn your people out at the convention, you won’t win at that level."
Romney won Yakima County in the March 3 caucuses with 394 votes. Paul came in third, after Santorum, with 225 votes.
More than 400 delegates attended Saturday’s convention. One of them, Romney supporter Jason Bergener, 30, of Zillah, said the result of the caucuses — which Romney also won statewide — should be the biggest factor for state delegates. Bergener said he worries having more delegates who prefer Paul goes against the will of the people.
Bergener was representing the 3rd Commissioner District, which covers the Lower Valley east of Interstate 82, and saw all 15 of its state delegates be elected from the Paul slate. Nine out of 13 state delegates from the 2nd Commissioner District, which covers part of Yakima and the lower part of the county west of the interstate, were on the Paul slate.
"I think that (the convention) is being co-opted a bit," Bergener said. "If you’re not on their slate as a Ron Paul supporter, you’re not getting elected."
As a Paul supporter in the same district, Torres said those against Romney are simply trying to let other Republicans know they still have a choice.
"I think that this is very good for the party," Torres said.
Republicans also ran out of time before they could adopt a platform for 2012. County GOP treasurer Norma Joiner said that means they will continue with the 2010 party platform until the next convention in 2014