I'd missed this news from a few days ago: Ron Paul supporters staged a democratic coup at Minnesota Republican district meetings and left the party's leaders sputtering. Well, sputtering and dismissive.
Over the weekend, they captured six of a dozen GOP national convention delegates elected at congressional district meetings. The rebellion has left local party officials crying foul, even as state leaders downplay the importance of the unexpected result.
"They'll be national delegates, but at the end of the day, that doesn't change anything because John McCain is going to be our nominee," said party spokesman Mark Drake.
Well, they should have seen it coming. Ron Paul supporters nabbed 16 percent of the vote and four counties on the Feb. 5 caucuses, and as the organizers kept pointing out to me, they were ready to win delegates in the next stage of the process. McCain has a number of built-in advantages for the fall, but "a well-organized and motivated party" is not on his list.
This little victory raises a question: What is the Ron Paul campaign actually up to? What's the rEVOLution up to? The answers are "not much" and "a little more." Paul is doing a campaign swing in Pennsylvania on Friday, but he's turned down requests from local organizers (very, very active ones, whose Liberty Bell t-shirts were spotted many times in New Hampshire) to go and stump in their areas. He might go to Duke before the North Carolina primary, but his campaign is leaving the grunt work of the campaign to local organizers.
The minor-league rEVOLutionaries are doing a little better. There are no less than six "Ron Paul Republicans" running for office in Virginia and Maryland, and the four from Maryland have already won their primaries. On Friday I stopped by a fundraiser for Amit Singh, a 33-year old first-time candidate in the uber-Democratic suburbs in Virginia across the river from D.C. He's closing in on $40,000 in funds after less than a month of campaigning. Last night the Maryland GOP had a dinner for its congressional challengers, and Ron Paul Republicans got tips on how to campaign.
One thing I've heard from a number of Ron Paul-inspired candidates is speculation about what Ron Paul will do for them. Is he going to endorse? Is he going to share his donor list? So far he's only endorsed two non-incumbent candidates, Murray Sabrin for New Jersey's Senate seat and Jim Forsythe for New Hampshire's first congressional district. The New Jersey GOP is trying desparately to find a candidate to crush Sabrin, and it's coming up short. But Forsythe, running against a former congressman who lost the seat in the 2006 rout, is about to drop out of the race. The Paul campaign suggests that the candidate might start endorsing other candidates soon. "Ron will review them after staff vet them first," said a spokesman. "The criteria will be a combination of viability and commitment to limited government principles."