As five more states take to the polls to try selecting their choice for the Republican Party nomination today, various interesting things have been happening in the world of Ron Paul's march through the caucus states, whose straw poll results often don't bind delegate allocation meaningfully.
First, a look at Iowa, where the Des Moines Register notes how successful Paulites have been within the state GOP apparatus:
Six of the new Iowa GOP state central committee members elected at district conventions Saturday have publicly expressed support for Paul, a libertarian-leaning presidential candidate: Dave Cushman, John Kabitzke, Joel Kurtinitis, Marcus Fedler, Jeff Shipley and Kris Thiessen....
Two more new central committee members have close ties to Paul. Tony Krebsbach was a county coordinator for Campaign for Liberty, a group Paul founded. And when Chad Steenhoek was running for the Iowa House in 2010, the Campaign for Liberty PAC gave him a donation and Paul spoke on his behalf. Steenhoek said Saturday he caucused for Gingrich. Steenhoek said he doesn’t subscribe to a Ron Paul philosophy so much as a Republican philosophy of limited government and individual rights.
The growing Paul faction in leadership positions at the Republican Party of Iowa — including the new chairman, A.J. Spiker, who was the Paul campaign’s Iowa vice chairman and can break ties in central committee votes — has created tension with Iowa Republicans who do not share their affection for the Texas congressman or subscribe to some of his views....
This can all be very important for what is able to happen for Paul in Tampa in August:
For some, Saturday’s push wasn’t as much about Iowa as it was about the national effort for Paul.
Several Paul loyalists said they harbor hope for getting Paul nominated at the national convention in Tampa, Fla., in late August. In order to do that, Paul must have a majority of support from at least five state delegations. With states like North Dakota, Minnesota, and others on track, his supporters could then attempt to nominate him from the floor.
Iowa’s 28 delegates are all “unbound,” meaning they can individually decide which presidential candidate to support. To stop Paul supporters from controlling the Iowa delegation, Romney backers in Iowa said they will likely focus on teaming up with Christian conservatives here.
Paul loyalists did well in getting their supporters onto the GOP’s “state nomination committee,” which will nominate Iowa’s 13 at-large national delegates. Another 12 delegates will be selected June 15. The GOP chairman and Iowa’s two Republican National Committee members are also delegates.
In another story from the Des Moines Register, the Paulites are already ruffling Romney feathers:
There was a bit of a ruckus between the Romney campaign and three top Iowa party activists at the Republican National Committee meeting Friday when the Iowans declined to sign a “delegate pledge form” in order to get their photos taken.
The three — Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker and Iowa’s two RNC members, Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman — later said it was an innocent dustup. They were waiting in line for a group photo with Mitt Romney at the meeting in Arizona, and intend to support the eventual GOP presidential nominee, Spiker said in a telephone interview.
CNN’s Peter Hamby reported that Romney had a private reception during which RNC members and state GOP chairs could get their pictures taken with the presumptive nominee.
But reception guests apparently needed to first sign a pledge promising to support Romney as a delegate to the GOP’s national convention. CNN reported that the Iowans refused to sign and “the dispute became heated.”
The Iowa Republican, meanwhile, fears that this sort of independent-mindedness from the Iowa GOP against the national masters could lost Iowa its first-in-nation caucus status. The writer thinks it's likely--though remember, we won't know until June 15--that after first Romney and then Santorum were the announced "winners" of Iowa, that it is likely Ron Paul actually will have the majority of the state's delegates:
If Saturday’s district conventions are any indication, in 54-days the Republican Party of Iowa will announce that Ron Paul, the third place finisher in the caucuses, will emerge with a majority of the delegates selected to go to the Republican national convention in Tampa.
*As The Hill notes, Ron Paul--exactly as he predicted the night of the Minnesota straw poll--looks like he's won the majority of delegates in that state:
Paul took home 20 of the 24 possible delegates and nearly all the alternative delegates Saturday during the Minnesota congressional district conventions....
Thirteen more at-large delegates will be chosen at the Minnesota state convention, but the delegation demographics there will be very similar to those in the congressional districts, and Paul appears poised to come away with even more delegates after the May 4 convention.....
“Ron Paul’s victories today declare his delegate-attainment strategy to be a success and they demonstrate that the media and Washington pundits are undercounting his delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa," said Paul campaign manager John Tate in a statement.
Paul, who has nearly $1.8 million cash on hand and no campaign debt, has repeatedly stated he would stay in the race until the very end, and hopes his victory in Minnesota will carry over into other states...
*Daily Caller with more on the meaning of the Minnesota win:
[Paul advisor Doug] Wead wrote on his blog that GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is an a “panic” after the Paul landslide. Similar efforts to bolster the Texas congressman’s delegate count are underway in Iowa, Colorado, Maine and other states.
“[A] number of Romney Hawks are now deeply concerned that Ron Paul has already laid the groundwork for similar success in six more caucus states,” Wead wrote.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul declined to comment on the record about whether or not Romney is indeed in a panic....
The Paul campaign is being mum about the prospect of other delegate coups. The libertarian-leaning candidate’s spokesman and campaign manager did not respond when asked if surprising landslides are anticipated in other states.
Paul advisor Wead also notes in the same article the Caller was quoting the New York Times official delegate counts aren't keeping up with facts on the ground in caucus states such as Iowa and Minnesota.
*A Paul delegate from Washington's Jefferson County, John Connolly, has his own personal take on the Paul delegate process, from last month but just came to my attention. Highlights:
Here is the data from Jefferson County – my county.
Of the 115 precinct delegates selected only 31 chose to put their name in the hat to become County Delegates for the State Convention which happens May 30th through June 2nd. Why so few people? Because many can’t make it on those days or do not have the funds to travel. Interesting that it can come to that level of sacrifice, which I have stated is the strength of the average Ron Paul supporter. It takes time and money to be at the state caucus and even more so at the national convention in Florida in August. I’m thinking the Ron Paul supporter is going to pull the underdog with his or her own cash more than any other supporter for any other candidate.
Breaking this 31 down here is what we have.
Ron Paul – 17
Mitt Romney – 8
Rick Santorum – 4
Newt Gingrich – 2
*Meanwhile in Washington's King County caucus this weekend, Ron Paul activists doing well prompted party insiders to just try to call the whole thing off at a GOP meeting, as reported in The Examiner by Emilie Rensink:
After the caucus commenced at 9 a.m., there was a nomination from the floor to elect prominent policymaking activist and community leader Tamra Smilanich to be the permanent chair of the caucus. She won by a majority of the vote.
Shortly thereafter, King County Republican Party Chairwoman Lori Sotelo announced that the caucus was to be adjourned, claiming that Smilanich was an 'operative' of the Ron Paul campaign and that she had 'taken over' the caucus. The electing of Smilanich to be the permanent chair turned the event into a Ron Paul campaign meeting instead of an official GOP caucus, according to Sotelo.
The insurance that was purchased for the event, she claimed, was paid for and covered by the King County GOP only, not the Ron Paul campaign....
Supporters of Ron Paul and other candidates alike agreed that Smilanich, regardless of her presidential preference, was voted in according to Robert's Rules of Order and that her position was therefore legitimate.
Smilanich continued the business of the caucus, and delegate speeches were made. However, before the first round of voting could be finished, Sotelo again interjected and claimed that the premises must be vacated because Smilanich was acting on the part of the Ron Paul campaign....
....at approximately 12:30 p.m., Lori Sotelo announced that the space had been rented for only a limited amount of time and that the caucus could not continue. A motion was made to move the caucus proceedings to the basketball court outside on the grounds of the school, and this was agreed to by the body.
....a quorum was maintained, allowing the caucus to be completed....Many delegates present were concerned that the election of delegates for the caucus, although apparently done in accordance with official party rules and Robert's Rules of Order, would be invalidated somehow by the KCGOP.
Rachel Maddow getting excited about the possibility that Paul was the real victor, or at least tied for first, in delegate collection in both Iowa and Minnesota:
My forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.