(Jim Clark) – Republicans who haven’t been watching the Ron Paul moves in Nevada have missed a great story. First appearing on the Nevada scene during the 2008 presidential caucuses, Paul supporters were and are a heterogeneous group of young voters, older folks and converts from the Nevada GOP establishment. Even after the 2008 caucuses, they buoyed attendance at GOP county and state central committee meetings. It turns out they were here for the long haul.
Fast forward to 2012 and another Nevada presidential caucus. As in 2008, Romney led with over half the votes cast; the rest were shared between Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Under party rules, the caucus vote was binding on Nevada in the GOP national convention, but the delegates had not yet been selected. That process was slated for the Nevada GOP Convention earlier this month in which delegates elected at earlier county GOP conventions were assembled.
By April, it had become obvious that the Ron Paul folks had amassed a commanding lead in delegate count, so at the Nevada GOP convention they elected 22 of the 28 delegates Nevada will send to the Tampa Convention. They did the same in Maine and Minnesota.
Incline’s most eligible bachelor and Nevada GOP delegate Rick Lamb was heard to say: “I’m looking for a Ron Paul button . . . all the young, good-looking chicks are wearing them.”
The press has been fascinated with the Paul game plan, suspecting an attempt to “steal” the nomination from Romney, who as yet has not amassed the delegate strength to win on the first ballot. The Ron Paul forces gave Sphinx-like answers.
Finally, last week, the plan became clear. Ron Paul emailed his supporters that he would not compete against Mitt Romney in the upcoming primaries in California, Texas and New York, thus assuring Romney of the nomination. But he also announced that he would continue to fight for delegates in states holding GOP conventions.
“This campaign is . . . about more than just the 2012 election” Paul told supporters. “It has been part of a quest I began 40 years ago that so many have joined,” he continued.
An article on his web site elaborates: “Most people miss the fact that Paul has already achieved his end game . . . the real goal was to seize control of party apparatuses in states that rely on caucuses. With that in hand Paul’s organization can direct party funds and operations to recruit candidates that follow Paul’s platform, and in that way exert some influence on the national Republican Party as well, potentially for years to come.”
Having a sizeable minority of delegates at the National GOP convention will give the Paul forces significant bargaining power in the process and in forming the GOP platform.
Paul’s ideology . . . consumer choice in health care, economic growth, Constitutionally restrained government, protected borders, lower taxes, reining in the Federal Reserve and Congressional approval before going to war . . . sounds pretty much like most GOP county and state platforms, but Paul seems to have captured the imagination and interest of his energized supporters.
Political Science Professor Wayne Lesperance of New England College said: “Ron Paul has brought new people into the party during this primary process. That has been something the other candidates have been much less successful in achieving.”
Indeed, as Hearst Washington Bureau Chief Richard Dunham writes: “Paul has built a national organization fueled by strong support from young voters. If Romney hopes to defeat Obama, he will need to capture the hearts and votes of the vast majority of Paul loyalists.”
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates and has served on the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )