With Newt Gingrich formally out of the race this week, now is the time for Mitt Romney to bask in his eventual nomination. But he’s not the nominee yet, and rival Ron Paul isn’t ready to stop campaigning.
There is essentially no way that the Texas congressman can amass enough delegates to become the endorsed Republican candidate. But with his loyal following and his militant understanding of how to work a caucus process, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. And although Romney has been winning state after state, what few have noticed is that in the end, Paul is amassing quite a number of real delegates. It’s those delegates who really get to make the decision when the party convenes in Tampa for the national convention.
The Washington Times is dubbing the efforts as “exploiting party rules,” but as anyone who has participated in a caucus as a delegate can tell you, it’s not exploiting anything. Becoming a delegate is something you have to actively work for, rather than simply filling in a ballot. It’s a system meant to reward those who do the volunteering, activism and legwork of the political process, and it’s a way to measure the real strength of a candidate by showing off the supporters’ level of enthusiasm.
Still, the GOP is calling it shenanigans, and they aren’t happy at all. “[L]oyalists for the libertarian congressman from Texas in recent days have engineered post-primary organizing coups in states such as Louisiana and Alaska, confirming what party regulars say would be an effort to grab an outsized role in the convention and the party’s platform deliberations. In Massachusetts, the state where Mr. Romney served as governor, Paul loyalists over the weekend helped block more than half of Mr. Romney’s preferred nominees from being named delegates at state party caucuses — even though Mr. Romney won his home state’s primary with 72 percent of the vote.”
He’s had success in garnering many delegates in other states, too. And here in Minnesota, he handily swept the delegate election despite a low showing in the actual caucus.
Right now, Paul has 80 delegates — not a huge number compared to Romney, but impressive for someone who has yet to actually win a caucus or primary. And the Republican National Committee has had become nervous enough about his supporters’ potential to block Romney’s one ballot only endorsement process that they’re beginning to take precautions when it comes to final contests. John Ralston reports that the RNC Chief Counsel has threatened the Nevada GOP, telling them that if Paul supporters take too many delegate slots, “Nevada’s entire contingent may not be seated in Tampa.”
Will the Paul supporters listen? We’ll see tomorrow.
Photo by R. DeYoung