Ron Paul's supporters scored an incredible upset at both the Maine and Nevada Republican State Conventions this weekend. In Maine, they won 15 out of 15 at-large delegates and were on track to win 6 of all 6 congressional district delegates. In Nevada, Paul's supporters won 22 out of 25 delegate slots, a result officially announced just minutes ago.
Following the Texas congressman’s recent wins in other caucus states, these victories provide further evidence that the “delegate strategy” might be one of the most successful electoral strategies in modern political history.
In Maine, over 2,000 delegates gathered at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday. After multiple recounts that stretched through the early afternoon, Paul supporter Brent Tweed was finally elected as the convention chairman, defeating Romney-backed candidate Charles Cragin by a mere four votes. Sources report that Mitt Romney backers began filtering out of the convention hall shortly afterwards.
In the early evening, the delegates separated into county caucuses to elect Maine’s 15 at-large delegates to the Republican National Convention. The counting of the ballots was finalized shortly after midnight. When the convention reconvened Sunday morning, it was announced that Ron Paul backers had won all 15 of 15 at-large delegate slots.
The Ron Paul takeover seemed complete as Paul supporters were then elected to the caucus chair and caucus secretary positions with nearly unanimous support. While final results will not be announced until early afternoon, Ron Paul is expected to win all 6 district delegate positions as well, giving Mr. Paul a clean sweep of 21 of 21 delegates from Maine.
In Nevada, 1,600 or so delegates had been officially credentialed by Saturday morning at the Nugget Casino in Sparks. Extensive debate about the rules that would govern the convention lasted for several hours, during which time several Romney supporters were escorted off the floor for distributing fake delegate slates.
Ron Paul himself addressed the convention after lunch, emphasizing familiar themes of limited government and fiscal conservatism. He was introduced by his wife, Carol, and was greeted with jubilation by his supporters in the crowd as they chanted “President Paul, President Paul.” Romney backers were also present in the crowd, although they were outnumbered by the Paul delegates, a significant portion of whom appeared to be younger than 30.
The first evidence of the Paul supporters’ strength in numbers came with the vote to elect Nevada’s National Committeeman and Committeewoman on Saturday afternoon. Paul backers soundly won both positions, ousting the incumbent Romney-supporting committee members. James Smack defeated Bob List with a vote of 932-623, and Diana Orrock defeated Carol Del Carlo with a vote of 902-429, with incumbent Committeewoman Heidi Smith garnering only 231 votes.
The convention also voted to elect Nevada’s 25 national delegates, three each from four congressional districts and 13 at-large delegates. The counting of the ballots took place on the third floor of the casino and lasted until early Sunday morning, conducted by volunteers from among the delegates and overseen by officials of both the Paul and Romney campaigns. Final results released earlier this morning confirm that Ron Paul supporters won 22 of 25 delegate slots.
The successful election of Paul supporters to most of the delegate slots comes on the heels of multiple warnings from the Republican National Committee to the Nevada Republican Party not to elect Paul-supporting delegates at the convention. The state party rejected the RNC’s advice, and it appears that the convention delegates have done so as well. The convention is expected to reconvene Sunday morning to consider possible changes to party bylaws.
Establishment party officials are reported to be in a panic over Ron Paul’s resounding victories in Maine and Nevada. Charles Cragin, the Romney-backer who was defeated in his attempt to chair the Maine convention, has predicted that the RNC will refuse to seat the Ron Paul dominated Maine delegation in Tampa. Meanwhile, a backup delegation of Romney lawyers is reportedly arriving in Nevada this morning to contest Ron Paul’s win.
Ron Paul’s surprise upsets in Maine and Nevada – two states that the mainstream media had already called for Mitt Romney – has the potential to upend the race for the Republican nomination. Paul supporters nationwide have been energized by the late-breaking turn of events and are redoubling their efforts in the upcoming primaries in Texas and California. Ron Paul continues to have a lasting impact on the Republican race and his supporters may well control the Republican Party in a few years.