Ron Paul’s Delegate Fight with the GOP

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) in his run for the
Republican Party’s presidential nomination was famously following a
delegate
strategy
” aimed at caucus states, rather than striving for mass
popular votes in primary states. The advantage of this strategy is
that its results were more malleable and less cut and dried than
“you earn delegates based on the popular vote.”

Now the disadvantages of that delegate strategy are
becoming clear: The results are more malleable and less cut and
dried than “you get delegates based on the popular vote.”

In four states, the question of how many delegates to the
Republican National Convention in Tampa in late August will end up
dedicated to Paul is embroiled in challenges and appeals to the
national party.

Last week, the Paul campaign
challenged all 46 delegates
sent to the RNC by the state party
in Louisiana. The party honored the delegation of a small, rump
anti-Paul faction that broke from the Paul majority during the
state party’s June convention. As CNN reported:

“We believe that they grossly and blatantly and repeatedly
violated their party rules and elected a delegation that was
improper,” said Paul’s campaign chairman Jesse Benton. “We believe
that our rump convention is the legitimate delegation and they have
a right to be seated at the Republican National Convention.”

Even some Romney partisans from the state
are telling the RNC
that the delegation the Louisiana state
party is trying to send to Tampa is illegitimate.

Earlier in July, the
Paul campaign challenged
the Oregon Republican Party’s attempts
to unseat—illegitimately, the campaign insists—some Paul alternate
delegates.

Sixteen duly elected Paul delegates from Massachusetts who had
their status stripped from them for refusing to sign affidavits (or
in some cases supposedly filing them too late or with
insufficiently specific language) swearing to vote for Romney even
though they prefer Paul are
challenging that action
by the state party with the RNC. An

affidavit from a stripped delegate
, Brad Wyatt, explains that
he was told by the state GOP chairman that he just didn’t trust
Wyatt and that the Romney campaign had “just cause to refuse to
certify you.”

From the other direction, in a state whose delegation Paul
firmly controlled, Maine, a prominent Republican,
Peter E. Cianchette
, last week
filed a challenge
 with the RNC to de-Paulify the
delegation. He claimed, as the Associated Press reported, that
“there were illegal votes at May’s state Republican Convention,
that a quorum wasn’t present when votes for delegates were cast,
and that convention officials violated party and parliamentary
rules.”

These various challenges go before the
national party’s contest committee
in the next couple of weeks,
and can be then considered by the credentials committee. What does
all this state delegation tumult say about relations between the
Paul campaign and the rest of the GOP? Clearly, on the state level,
existing party apparati are not afraid of fighting Paulians
outright. Paul fans are collecting grievances about
sketchy party actions that worked to Romney’s favor
across the
nation.

USA Today a couple of weeks back
ran a story
—whose theme was supported by on-the-record comments
from Paul’s political director Jesse Benton—spinning without much
substance the idea that “the national party is welcoming Paul and
his supporters to the event with open arms.”

The story didn’t have many concrete facts to support the thesis.
It spun as a big favor to Paul that the party didn’t use its
control over most of the available gathering spaces in Tampa to
prevent Paul from holding
a rally
 but in fact helped him find a venue. As Paul
activist (he was the mastermind behind the famous Ron
Paul Blimp
in 2008) Trevor Lyman
wrote in reaction
to the USA Today story:

The RNC is offering Ron Paul a location for his own rally one
day before the actual convention. This is NOT a speaking role, nor
any kind of role, at the convention itself.  This is NOT an
offer to influence the party platform, nor an opportunity to
influence the debate.  Rather, this is an offer to put Ron
Paul and his supporters into a ‘Freedom of speech
zone
‘,  a place where you’re allowed to protest and speak
out, and that also happens to be at a location where no one can
hear you.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, head of the platform committee at
the RNC,
told the Washington Times
that he expects to see great
influence from both Paul and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in
terms of ideas in the platform. Yet McDonnell also says there’s
“about 80 percent overlap of ideas between traditional
conservatives within the party and
the libertarian wing,” which elides both foreign policy and strong
and immediate cuts in spending, areas where Paul’s people believe
in a far smaller and less activist government than Romney does.

Investor and Paul fan Mark Spitznagel wrote
at Forbes this week
about the ancient Chinese pedigree
of Paul’s strategy, which Spitznagel identifies as
“shi”—“cultivating the influence of the present on the future” like
the slow flow of water rather than a full frontal assault.
Spitznagel says that strategy manifests in Paul’s slow accretion of
support among the young and on local and state Republican parties
without forcing the sort of big all-or-nothing fight that many Paul
fans dreamed of seeing in Tampa.