Maine Ron Paul delegates last holdouts for convention seating

Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2012 in Politics

Maine Ron Paul delegates last holdouts for convention seating

by Gina Hamilton

Maine's Republican delegation, which broke for Ron Paul during a takeover of the state convention, are in negotiations with the Republican National Convention about seating at next week's Tampa convention. Ron Paul holds 21 of the 24 delegates currently.

Six states experienced some degree of 'Paul Revolution'.  In Maine, two Republican leaders issued a challenge to exclude the Ron Paul delegates from Maine. 

In their complaint Jan Staples, the committeewoman, and Peter E. Cianchette alleged:

• The failure of the credentialing process at the state convention led to illegal votes being cast and counted.

• There was not a quorum when votes for at-large delegates and alternates were cast.

• Widespread credentialing irregularities and lax floor security led to illegal votes being cast and counted.

• Convention officials repeatedly violated party and parliamentary rules.

The delegates fought back against the national committee, and on August 15, the committee acknowledged that there were no grounds for refusing to seat the Paul delegates.  However, under pressure from the Romney campaign, the RNC informed the delegation that they wanted a united front for the presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney. 

And so negotiations began.

Some of the Paul delegates will be seated from Louisiana, which had two separate state conventions. The Texas congressman will get 17 of the Louisiana's 46 delegates in the compromise, said Charlie Davis, who served as Paul's campaign chairman in Louisiana. The rest of the state's delegates are expected to support Mitt Romney, the party's presumptive nominee.

Supporters for Paul and Romney also have disputes over delegates in Massachusetts and Maine. Jesse Benton, Paul's chief campaign strategist, said Paul's supporters were close to reaching an agreement on divvying up the delegates from Massachusetts.

"Maine is still unsettled, but talks are continuing and the conversation remains respectful," Benton said in an email. 

Charlie Webster, chair of Maine's Republican Party, said Tuesday night that he was convinced a deal was near that would seat the Paul delegates. CNN reported Tuesday evening that a deal was near and corroborated Webster’s assertion that Maine was the last state under negotiation.

CNN reported that some Paul delegates would be seated, which would help Mitt Romney avoid embarrassment as he officially receives the GOP nomination. Agreements had been reached in Massachusetts and Louisiana, but negotiations were still under way in Maine, it said.

Gov. Paul LePage, who is the honorary leader of the delegation, had pledged not to attend if the Paul delegates were not seated.

While some states, like Maine and Massachusetts, don't really matter in and of themselves in the general election, since neither state is likely to break for Romney, some of the surrounding states -- such as New Hampshire, which had strong Ron Paul support -- may withhold support for the eventual nominee and break for Obama if they perceive that Ron Paul has been marginalized.  This is also true in states like Colorado, if Oklahoma does not seat its Paul delegates.

The Ron Paul controversy may be the least of Romney's problems at the upcoming convention, however.

The Akin rape/abortion debate has caused a furor, especially as the Republican platform contains an abortion plank that has no exception for rape or incest, which was essentially Akin's position and is the position of VP selection Paul Ryan.  The convention is being held in Tampa, in one of the largest Medicare states in the country, and Ryan's Medicare position is highly questionable. 

And to make matters worse, it is possible that the Gulf Coast of Florida will be threatened by Tropical Storm Isaac during the convention.

**UPDATE 22 August 2012 5:25 pm**

The Maine GOP has reached an agreement with the national party to seat 10 Ron Paul delegates.  Of the remainder, 13 are expected to vote for Romney, and the final delegate, Chair Charlie Webster, refuses to commit but is known to be a Romney supporter. 

**UPDATE 22 August 2012 6:34 pm**

Via Maine Progressives Warehouse:

Brent Tweed, one of the Maine delegates whose seat in Tampa is being challenged, said he and other pro-Paul delegates would not agree to such a proposition because they believe all 20 delegates were properly elected during the state GOP convention in May.

“We haven’t agreed to any deal,” Tweed said. “We think the [Republican National Committee] Contest Committee has to rule in our favor and seat all 20 delegates.”

The conflicting information comes just five days before the convention kicks off, creating a cloud of uncertainty over delegates from Maine as they prepare to head south.

**UPDATE 24 August 2012 8:55 pm**

Earlier today, the RNC credential committee let stand the decision by the convention that the Ron Paul delegates would not be seated in Tampa, after the Paul delegates refused to split their delegation.

Gov. Paul LePage announced that, as threatened, he would boycott the convention.

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