News Column

RNC Deals New Blow to Maine Ron Paul Supporters

Aug. 23, 2012

Robert Long, Bangor Daily News, Maine

The full Republican National Committee voted late Thursday morning to support a compromise that would seat 10 Maine delegates pledged to presidential candidate Ron Paul and 10 alternate delegates, according to Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster.

The vote follows a Committee on Contests ruling Wednesday that flaws with the way Maine's state GOP convention unfolded in May invalidated the selection of 20 Maine delegates committed to Paul.

The move represents another setback for Paul supporters who seek to seat all 20 Maine delegates pledged to the libertarian-leaning U.S. representative from Texas at the national convention.

The 20 Maine Republicans committed to Paul continue to reject compromise and insist that they all be seated at the national convention that begins Monday.

Ashley Ryan, a Paul supporter who was elected Maine's new Republican national committeewoman during the state party convention, is at the national convention site in Tampa, Fla. She reaffirmed Thursday morning that her group will not agree to any compromise.

Despite Wednesday's negative ruling from the Committee on Contests and the RNC's endorsement of that ruling today, the Maine delegates pledged to Paul will take their case to the convention credentials committee, which is scheduled to meet this afternoon and Friday, according to Ryan.

"We were all duly elected and we should all be duly seated," she said. "When you look at the case, it would be an embarrassment to the party, to [presumptive presidential nominee] Mitt Romney and to Maine if we're not seated."

The appeal to the credentials committee comes after the Committee on Contests concluded Wednesday that many rules were broken during the chaotic May convention in Augusta, according to Webster. Peter Cianchette and Jan Martens Staples, longtime Maine Republican party leaders and Romney supporters, challenged the results, arguing that lax credentialing and security at the state convention allowed unqualified participants to cast votes.

The contest committee urged Republican leaders and Paul supporters to work out a compromise or it would choose Maine's delegates, Webster said. Maine's delegation remains the lone holdout not to have reached an agreement on how many of the disputed delegates will be recognized at the national convention.

The committee suggested that 10 pro-Paul supporters and 10 supporters of Mitt Romney represent Maine at the convention, according to Webster. This is similar to agreements reached with other state delegations that backed Paul.

Ryan said Wednesday that the state's delegation rejected offers by the Romney campaign and Republican party officials to seat 12 of Maine's Paul supporters while replacing the remainder of the disputed delegates with Romney backers.

The 20 Paul delegates remain united in rejecting any compromise proposal, Ryan told the Bangor Daily News by phone Thursday morning. The Paul delegates have received no new compromise proposal and are not in regular contact with Republican party officials or representatives of the Romney campaign, she said. Lawyers representing the Maine delegates continue to work on their behalf.

On Wednesday, Matthew McDonald of Belfast, a Paul-backing Maine delegate, told the BDN, "No compromise: Seat all of us or seat none of us."

On Thursday, McDonald reiterated his position that the Paul delegates would not compromise and characterized the Committee on Contests decision as a "recommendation." He noted that Gov. Paul LePage has promised not to attend the convention if the Maine group isn't seated.

When contacted by phone Thursday morning, Brent Littlefield, a political adviser to LePage, declined to comment on whether the governor would attend the national convention. "At the point when I have a comment, I'll issue a public statement," he said.

Pete Harring, a Paul delegate, will attend the convention. His flight leaves Saturday morning.

"I was a duly elected delegate and I'm going to Tampa," he said Thursday morning. He intends to be on the convention floor Monday. "It looks like this is going up to the last minute," Harring said of whether he will be recognized as a delegate.

Ryan expects a decision from the credentials committee by Friday. If that panel rules against seating all 20 Maine delegates committed to Ron Paul, "We'll have a meeting of the delegation to decide what we'll do next," she said.

If they do not receive credentials, Ryan and Harring said Thursday that the Paul delegates from Maine would explore finding someone to make a motion from the convention floor to seat them.

The Paul campaign hopes that it can have enough delegates seated to place Paul's name into nomination during the convention, which would allow him to make a speech.

Earlier this month, Webster offered a compromise to the Paul delegates. His deal would have let them attend the convention but obligate them to vote for Mitt Romney if Paul doesn't have sufficient support to be nominated for president.

The Paul supporters rejected that plan.

Last week, Maine delegates who back Paul sought an injunction against the Republican National Committee to stop it from investigating whether they were legitimately chosen to represent the state at the GOP convention.



Source: (c)2012 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine) Distributed by MCT Information Services