5/5/12 - 5/6/12
Saturday morning at the Maine State Republican Convention the ordinarily simple procedure of voting in a Convention Secretary and Convention Chair took over four heated hours, pushing back the schedule and setting the tone for the remainder of the event with both slots being filled by pro Ron Paul candidates.
The vote for the chair ended with a very slim margin of victory for the Paul backed Brent Tweed with 1,118 to the Romney supporter, Charles Cragin's 1,114. The tabulation of these two votes took hours, with each of the 16 counties in the state counting the raised hands of their delegates and reporting the numbers to Maine GOP chair Charlie Webster. A move was put forth by a Romney supporter to suspend the rules and do a written vote just prior to the lunch recess, and was addressed by Webster upon return. For this to pass, a two thirds majority was needed, and the motion failed overwhelmingly.
The Ron Paul campaign came into this event highly organized and with months of statewide preparation under their belt. Pro Paul delegates were directed to the Paul booth to pick up a folder which contained a welcome letter, and lists of Paul backed candidates running for various positions. Stapled to the inside of the folder was a sticker with the 15 names of the candidates that Paul supporters wanted to send as delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa on August 27.
When it came time to cast votes for delegates, Oxford county was able to complete the voting process and get the ballots sealed and handed in to the county chairman, at which point a number of delegates left for the day. Unfortunately, individuals from the Romney camp were seen and caught on camera handing out fake slates of names to Ron Paul supporters that looked exactly like the stickers from the Paul campaign, but with pro-Romney names. A list of pro-Paul delegates that supporters would recognize, but differed from the campaign sanctioned list was also handed to Paul supporters with the clear intention of diluting the vote. It is my understanding, that as a result of this, that convention chair Tweed deemed the ballots corrupt, and called for a retaking of the vote.
The counties were instructed to break up into county caucuses and ballots would be distributed for a revote. Oxford county delegates, who were two thirds in favor of Romney, were frustrated with the process and after discussion among the county, as well as discussions with other counties, decided to ignore the chairs request to retake the vote and hand in the previously completed ballots, attached with the note, as read by caucus secretary Glen Holmes, "Take it or leave it." It turned out that the chair decided to leave it as Oxford was the only county that did not fill out the new ballots and thusly no votes were counted from that county.
Early on Sunday morning, the unofficial list of delegates elected to the national convention was posted on the large monitor, announcing that all 15 of the Ron Paul delegates were elected. Rumors began circulating of a team of Romney lawyers being present as a result of the previous days proceedings and that the votes would be overturned by the end of the day. However, as the day progressed, all the attempts to challenge the delegate list were shut down by chairman Tweed. On more than one occasion, he had to tell speakers that they were out of order and if they did not stop speaking, they would be escorted from the building. In response to calls of out of order from Tweed, vociferous and misled Romney supporters shouted down to him, "Your out of order!"
Late in the day on Sunday, an attempt was made to oust Tweed with a vote of no-confidence, but was overwhelmingly voted down. This resulted in an escalation of contentious remarks from the balcony area and ultimately caused a number of Romney supporters to leave, disgruntled and angry.
After the First and Second District caucuses adjourned, the six remaining committed delegate slots were awarded to the Paul campaign, making for a highly successful weekend for Ron Paul in Maine, taking 20 of the 24 available delegate slots to the National Convention. The passion and organization of the Paul supporters was evident as soon as we arrived two hours early to the convention on saturday morning, to see a line filled with hundreds of Ron Paul fans waiting to get into the convention. The line would eventually stretch to the end of the parking lot and contain over a thousand people. There was a strikingly similar outcome at the Nevada state convention this weekend with 22 of 25 delegates being pro-Ron Paul. As he continues to rack up these overwhelming victories in caucus states throughout may, it seems more and more likely that he will be allowed a speaking slot at the National convention as well as the possibility of effecting the party platform as a whole. Ron Paul supporter Ashly Ryan was elected Republican National Commiteewoman as a 21 year old. With more and more individuals like this being elected to state and national positions, it seems that Ron Paul is starting to legitimately effect the national dialogue.