In a repeat of Iowa, where a Mitt Romney State Chairman held up accurate results of the vote for weeks, the Arizona State Convention has gone into overtime. Ballots are supposedly locked up, waiting to be counted “tomorrow.” But citizens and journalists on the floor had no trouble discerning that Ron Paul forces had seized the day and if the vote is fair, he will likely win the majority of delegates from Arizona to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
If the victory in Arizona proves true, and remember, there is a tantalizing and suspicious delay, will it mean that Ron Paul has won the right to be nominated on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Tampa? There is some controversy on that. The Arizona delegates are supposed to be bound on the first ballot, although that didn’t stop some of them from voting for Pat Buchanan in 1992. It isn’t over yet, there are some Ron Paul states that have been won at the County or District level, that still need the formality of winning the state convention, but barring parliamentary jujitsu, it could very well happen. It is big news.
The final slate was 62% Romney, 22% Santorum, 4% Gingrich and 4% Ron Paul. A devastating defeat for the majority.
Paul delegates who had give up weeks and months of their lives to get elected as delegates at the precinct and county levels were scandalized. Taking a chapter from Missouri, they tried to convene outside the venue in the parking lot, claiming a plurality and calling to do things in order. But was it too late? Challenges will surely follow.
Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Arizona, cocky Romney forces led by Nathan Sproul saw defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Ironically, the Ron Paul forces came to the state GOP convention to play nice. They offered a deal. “You know our knack for organizing?” They said, ” You know we have the numbers? Why don’t we make sure there are no surprises and nothing embarrassing. Your candidate has the nomination, we will give you 50% plus one of the delegation to Tampa, that gives you the majority, and let us have a nice delegation of the leftovers for our man too.”
But no. The Mitt Romney forces insisted on scorched earth. “You can have one,” they said.
The Romney team then proceeded to fall apart. It was so bad that Ron Paul operative Shawn Dow couldn’t have given them a victory if he had wanted it. Said a Ron Paul staffer, “No matter how we tried, the Romney people wouldn’t move off their one delegate offer. We had no choice. We had to win.”
Sydney Hay, a Ron Paul spokesman who is sometimes seen on the Bill Mahr Show and once won a congressional nomination in Arizona , gave a positive, conciliatory speech to the convention. And Josh Romney was well received by all. And then, in a moment poorly handled, he returned to the microphone to pitch his daddy’s green ballot, with the Romney slate.
Yes, indeed, at that point there were boos but they came from the whole floor, even from Romney supporters who had worked hard to get their names considered as delegates. No one was in the mood to let outsiders dictate a list of his friends who should go to Tampa. It was yet another example of a poorly run machine. The Romney kid should never have been given such an assignment.
“Why make Josh Romney get involved in a precinct level fight for delegates?” asked Sydney Hay. “Here was a presidential candidate’s son down in the gutter in a fight. They never should have put him in this place.”
Ron Paul took 11 of 18 delegates decided in the district caucuses. It was the “at large” delegates that were left in the air. The Romney forces stalled for hours, hoping to outlast the Ronulans who stayed put as Romney delegates, disgusted with their own organization, finally began to drift away.
In a last ditch effort the Romney forces tried to declare that there was now no quorum and other motions were offered. When the vote for the “at large” delegates was finally taken it was sealed, under lock and key, with the promise that “tomorrow we will count those and sort things out.”
Finally, the lights were turned out and the Ronulans were sent home, exhausted and weary, unaware that they had probably just made history and put their man into nomination at Tampa. For the Romneyites, the unthinkable had happened. It is not done yet, but Ron Paul may very well see his name entered into nomination in Tampa.
This last weekend was perhaps the most mean spirited of all. One has to wonder, if Mitt Romney has won the nomination, why can’t they communicate that message to the state conventions? The fact is that something bigger is happening than the nomination of a candidate. The Republican Party is being remade in the image of Ron Paul, the Thomas Jefferson of our generation. The Ronulan invasion continues. It is not a conspiracy. It is organic. It is natural. And it cannot be stopped.
Update: Friends in Oklahoma insist that the convention which continued on the parking lot outside was indeed legal, had the quorum needed, and resulted in another win for Ron Paul. I hope they are right and we need to support that process legally and follow the challenges involved.
Romney delegates on the attack.
Josh Romney’s green slate.