Oklahoma and Arizona this past weekend became the most recent examples of GOP insiders teaming up with team Romney to alienate Ron Paul's legion of supporters and preventing a fair and open nomination process. However, in a move that has been almost the opposite of what other state parties have done, former Enron lobbyist and current Republican Party Chairman Pat Shortridge extended an olive branch to Ron Paul supporters.
Referring to the upcoming Minnesota Republican Party convention this weekend, Shortridge stated, "I am pleased to announce that Congressman Ron Paul will be addressing the Republican State Convention in St Cloud on Friday, May 18, sometime in the evening following the conclusion of the U.S. Senate endorsement."
"Having the Congressman speak will highlight our common Republican purpose of restoring limited government and individual liberty by electing Republican candidates who believe in those core party principles. It will also establish the Republican Party as the growing party that is welcoming new people and new ideas and preparing to be a long-term, conservative governing majority."
Shortridge’s announcement earlier this month comes on the heels of a dominant performance by Ron Paul supporters in recent congressional district elections – sweeping 5 of 8 congressional districts and winning 20 national delegates for Ron Paul.
Shortridge's statement of inclusivity draws a stark contrast against the behavior of many other state GOP chairmen across the country. When asked about the running of his state party, a veteran political observer stated about the running of his local party:
"Obfuscation and confusion is how these people run their meetings, and they do it intentionally," Shortridge said. "They try to force through votes that not a single delegate understands. They are terrified that the grassroots of our party threaten the status quo. We threaten their stranglehold on power."
In Minnesota this weekend, if Paul gets a strong turnout from his supporters, he may complete his delegate sweep. Minnesota fits into the Paul campaign's plan for the Republican National Convention: show up with a strong delegate count and present Paul as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. To date, Paul has officially secured 20 of the 40 national delegates from Minnesota, two were won by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and two more who went to uncommitted delegates. Thirteen more delegates will be up for grabs this weekend in St. Cloud Minnesota at the Minnesota Republican Convention scheduled to be held Friday and Saturday.
If Ron Paul supporters show up in full force, Minnesota may be added to the nationwide shows of strength for Ron Paul that have been seen so far this year in states as varied as Nevada, Iowa, Maine, and Washington. In these states, among others, Ron Paul supporters have meticulously worked through the political process by trial and error, repeated many times, until ultimately showing themselves dominant at the highest levels of their state Republican parties.
An interview with Shortridge might shed light on his thinking about the olive branch approach. "I think it's important that contrasts are about ideas ... I'm not so much a fan of personality contrasts and the political back-and-forth contrasts because, honestly, I don't care about it, and I don't think most Minnesotans care about it.''
If Shortridge's words about getting rid of the political back-and-forth shed light on how he runs a party, the Minnesota Republicans are looking at a meeting this weekend that is likely to be a vigorous discussion of ideas, but with little of the threatening and thuggish drama that other state party leaders have pushed on Ron Paul's supporters.