In the trenches of the Washington State battle

June 23, 2012

In the last few months I have been inundated with emails and memos and got to this one late but I kept it for months and read it and re-read it.  This is from Peter Chiou in the Tacoma, Washington area and it was written in March when the Ron Paul and Rick Santorum people were working together to stop Romney.  There is good advice here for Ron Paul people still in the trenches.  And this is a good archival piece to have for the future.  It offers needed insight into the process.

One correction? Peter Chiou is a very humble, self effacing leader but he is wrong to blame himself.  We have taken on the establishment and it is no easy task.  There will be successes and times that we fall short.  It is a process and his experiences here will help others in others states win delegates and it will help in the future.

Pierce County Convention 3/25/2012

The 28th District


Peter Chiou

Do not give in to the prospect of losing but proceed ever more boldly against it!

This is a no-holds-barred self examination of how we screwed the pooch so badly in the 28th.  This paper is intended to educate in how to win.  I apologize to all those in 28th who worked so hard to only fail.  We missed a lot of opportunities.  No holding back.  No time for pride and ego.  Get it out and then fix it.  We must really hang up our egos at the door in debriefs like this if we are to learn.  When we’re done, let’s go have a beer.

It was a bloodbath yesterday in the 28th.  The results could have been very different had I known the rules better and had previous experience in a contentious environment like this.  JM (RS DL as well as GOP DL and Caucus Chairman), counter to the wishes of the Santorum campaign, crafted a unity slate with the Romney and Gingrich camps.  Their objective was to shut the Ron Paul people out rather than to ensure a brokered convention at the national convention.  This objective was achieved but to their own detriment.  It was a tactical win but an operational error on her part, IMHBAO.  However, their execution was nearly flawless (my hat off to them) but it took a lot longer than they had expected because a lot of their Santorum and Romney folks were also new and showed up unbeknownst to them.

Hence, the following are ideas derived from my experience yesterday:  (I hate losing due to stupidity)

  1. Expect a battle.
  2. KNOW ROBERTS RULE OF ORDER!!!!!!  You have to know how to ask the questions and make motions without sounding dumb.  This way, you can challenge with confidence and perceived credibility.
  3. Appoint an experienced floor captain and not simply one with good heart and good intentions such as I but had no experience.
  4. Bring notebooks and each keep own notes.
  5. Establish roll call.  Know what quorum is!  And keep an eye on it.
  6. Establish coalition long beforehand.  Unless we have a clear majority, we MUST establish coalition to deny Romney the likely 1144 delegates.
  7. Point of Information and ascertain the number needed for Quorum.  Then see if a walk-out of the Ron Paul delegation will affect the quorum.  This can be used as a tactic to stall the proceedings.
  8. Must have a floor leader with personality of wanting to win so badly that he seeks every angle and every opportunity.  Not a milk toast like I was.  Could have raised a point of information and asked if all the Santorum and Gingrich people really want to help Romney get to the 1144 faster or do they want to slow them down.  And if I could affect quorum, lead the delegation out and force a hallway discussion before returning to order of the day.  Or, take a risk in walking out and hoping the Santorum/Gingrich people will walk out.  I could also have done this after the first ballot and got all the people outside and really laid everything out.
  9. Appoint a floor toughie.  If the leader is not assertive enough as was our case.  I was too concerned with building rapport and being nice instead of winning.  I made a lot of friends in the process and got people to like me but did not win any delegates at all.  This should be our main goal.
  10. After so many people had left because of exhaustion, we could have politely pointed to the lack of quorum and shut down the alternate election process.  They did not have to have any alternates at all!!!!  We FOULed this one up big time!
  11. Santorum and Paul people must be informed to know the plan to secure victory.  Be bold in who you support.  In other words, don’t be a stealth supporter.  Make it a sporting event where there is healthy competition and energy on both sides.  And everyone knows who the other side is.  At least the leadership should not be stealthy.
  12. There are no secrets in politics when it comes to real-time.  In the military, we safeguard  information and plans until execution.  Then it doesn’t matter because it’s often too late to respond to.  It is true in general but there are always exceptions.
  13. Go to your caucus room as soon as possible.  So that as your people arrive, you can greet them at the door.  Assume they know who you are.  No stealth was needed in our case because for speeches, we simply stood up and said our name, our preference, and if we’d support the nominee.  Most of us said yes.  Only one had the courage to say no.  It wouldn’t have made any difference if we had said no.
  14. Clear leadership presence in the room for each must be established early on.  We failed here in the 28th.  I did not make sure everyone knew I was there and who I was.  Santorum caucus leaders had leis around their necks to show who they were.
  15. Recommend that the two leaders working together know each other beforehand.  Agree that when one motions for recess to talk to your people, the each group will agree to the recess.  Otherwise, you’d just to have wait for an opportune time.  We had Jane Milhans so it was an impossible situation to begin with.  This may be the case with you as well.  However, if you make the case early on – like a week before, then you stand a chance.
  16. Have a Command Post established just outside the the caucus rooms with computer and printer for real-time printing of Slates.  Bring lots of ink and paper.  Exchange cell phones for real time texting.  Text to command post’s google voice account to be able to relay to appropriate personnel for action.
  17. Set the Santorum and Ron Paul tables next to each other or close by to collaborate.  Real-time IM or texting between the two might be helpful too.
  18. JCl, please make my Clear Channel Hotspot available for the conventions’ use if necessary.  We had good wifi yesterday but that may not always be the case.  This will facilitate the google voice texting by the command post, if desired.
  19. Have Ron Paul and Santorum leaders address their respective groups together.  NS had good success here in the 25th.  This builds trust between the two camps.  In the 27th, this fell apart because the Santorum people mistrusted the other side and we were thus screwed.  Our side trusted them, however.  So they got the lionshare of the delegate and we got one after Romney and Gingrich.   After church this morning, a bunch of Ron Paul people and Santorum people were exchanging war stories over coffee.  Remember, we are brothers and neighbors first before we were adversaries in this contest.
  20. DW, a very close friend of mine from church, made the front page of The News Tribune.  They lied and said he was a Ron Paul person when they knew he was a Santorum district leader.  I wish we had thought of this idea sooner.  He was trying to effect mutual support with RP in the 27th but failed.