Two Perspectives on how Ron Paul Activists are Getting Along in the GOP These Days


First, from Politico, who seem to believe (or who the writers's sources want you to believe) that all is well:

The acrimony between the Republican establishment and Ron Paul supporters who took control of state parties in 2012 has begun to fade as a new period of détente—even cooperation—starts to shape their often-fraught relationship.

And both sides say the togetherness—a behind-the-scenes priority for Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus—could be an important key to GOP success in the midterms and perhaps 2016…..

So national party brass are seeking cooperation, even friendship, in most of the states where libertarians made the deepest inroads…

Still smarting from last November's thumping, both sides have matured and became savvier about working together. The loyalty of the Paul folks has shifted from father to son, and many believe they can be most helpful to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's likely 2016 presidential campaign if they have a seat at the table.

There follow details about Nevada–where "Some of the more hardcore Paul supporters have been pushed out of leadership positions at the local level"–and Maine, where "Paul supporter Ashley Ryan was elected the youngest Republican national committeewoman ever at 21″ and says:

"Maine has come a long way in its relationship with the RNC," said Ryan. "It's a lot harder to yell at someone or to hate someone that you know their kid's name or you've met their wife or you met their husband or you bonded over both loving the Red Sox. So you get less of a screaming match and more of a real discussion."…

Maine's national committeeman Mark Willis, who waged a long-shot challenge to prevent Priebus from getting a second term, has spent much of this year trying to overturn changes made to the party rules at the behest of the Romney campaign ahead of last summer's national convention. Many of the tweaks will make it harder for an insurgent candidate like Ron Paul to get traction against a well-funded, establishment favorite in 2016.

Willis' resolution to go back to the rules from 2008 went nowhere during a committee hearing this week controlled by party traditionalists.

"If they are trying to make peace, then they have a strange way of going about it," said Willis. "At this point, I'm not seeking peace. I'm seeking justice. There won't be peace within the party until there is justice for what happened in Tampa."

The story goes on to quote Paulite Iowa GOP chief A.J. Spiker saying reports of huge establishment conflict are overstated, and then visits Minnesota and finds a bit of a mess:

another state whose delegation Paul controlled at the national convention – the state GOP faced eviction from their headquarters last spring for unpaid rent. And the establishment favorite for U.S. Senate lost at a state convention to a libertarian state representative named Kurt Bills, who ran an inept campaign and lost the general election by 34 points…

Activists say that Bills' crushing defeat has done some damage to the liberty movement psyche, causing soul searching and a renewed focus on electability.

Minnesota national committeeman Jeff Johnson, who is running for governor next year, said the Paul people are still a force but less so than in the past….

It feels from the evidence in this Politico story that it's less a case of Paulites becoming a comfortable part of the GOP and more a case of the RNC establishment making a desert and calling it peace.

This is especially true when you contemplate this other news out of Maine over the weekend, as summed up by Portland Press-Herald:

One of Maine's voting representatives to the Republican National Committee and six other libertarian and conservative members of the Republican State Committee have resigned their posts and left the party, citing a list of grievances at the state and national levels.

"(We) can no longer allow ourselves to be called nor enrolled as Republicans; we can no longer associate ourselves with a political party that goes out of its way to continually restrict our freedoms and liberties as well as reaching deeper and deeper into our wallets," reads a letter signed by Maine Republican National Committeeman Mark Willis and 11 others that was sent to a state party official. "We instead choose the path that focuses on ways to help our fellow Mainers outside of party politics."

The decision by Willis and the others to unenroll from the Maine Republican Party and resign from their positions is a sign of the continuing discord among some within Republican ranks as the party struggles to rebuild after stinging losses at the ballot box.

Libertarian or "Liberty Movement" Republicans, although representing a small but growing faction, won control of their parties in Maine and several other states last year. But they have since clashed with more mainstream or "establishment" leaders. The discord has been pronounced in Maine, as evidenced by a high-profile internal fight that spilled onto the floor of the Republican National Convention last year and the recent resignations of the party's two top officials….

The group outlined a litany of reasons for their decision in a joint letter sent Sunday night to the secretary of the Maine Republican Party, Chuck Mahaleris. Those grievances include:

 Anger over rule changes adopted during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., last year.

 Congressional Republicans' support for the National Security Agency surveillance programs publicly revealed in recent months and for immigration reform, online sales taxes and gun control.

 Maine Republican lawmakers' failure to block enactment of a state budget that includes tax increases.

 Republican Gov. Paul LePage's vetoes of several bills important to libertarians – including those restricting the use of surveillance drones and the sales of raw milk – as well as the LePage administration's "atypical meddling in the business of the Maine State Committee."

The members of the Republican State Committee who have resigned are: Willis, of Washington County, along with his wife, Violet; Thomas Barry of Androscoggin County; Ann-Marie Grimes Grenier of Cumberland County; Gregory Hodge of Lincoln County; Olga LaPlante of Cumberland County; and Russell Montgomery of Knox County.

The five other enrolled Republicans who said they are withdrawing from the party are: Sam Canders, Bryan Daugherty and Maria Hodge of Penobscot County; and Scott and Debbie D'Amboise of Androscoggin County….

Earlier this year, the Maine State Republican Committee passed a resolution to essentially nullify the rules adopted at the 2012 convention. But that resolution – sponsored by Willis – was soundly rejected at the RNC meeting held in Boston last weekend….

I blogged about Paulite v. establishment tensions in Iowa and Nevada last month.