By Brian Doherty
Many of the upstream GOP meetings in which actual delegates are selected from precinct to county to state (in those caucus states where the hyped straw poll totals do not define how delegates will vote for candidates in Tampa, on which the Ron Paul campaign places so much emphasis) are happening now, and interesting results are arising.
A survey far and wide, from both news sources and Paul fans own accounts:
*The biggest excitement was in Missouri, where (in echoes of what happened at Nevada's state convention back in 2008) a St. Charles County GOP meeting was actually shut down (with arrests of two Paul supporters and police choppers on the scene) in response to parliamentary challenges from Paul people.
ABC has a good collection of links and anecdotes from that state. Some highlights:
- The Kansas City Star reports that things got contentious in Clay County, too: ”In Clay County, arguments between Paul supporters and others became so intense that the caucus chairman threatened to have voters removed by force. … [Paul supporter:] ‘We raised a number of points of order, points of information, points of parliamentary inquiry, many of which have been ignored.’” http://bit.ly/zV6XxR
- Boone County, which encompasses Columbia and the University of Missouri, elected a slate of Ron Paul-backing delegates, after Paul supporters succeeded in electing their own caucus chair. (That’s a normal part of caucus procedure: the first vote taken is on who will chair the meeting.) One GOP member described the Paul supporters as “loud, boisterous,” and “obnoxious” at the meeting — although the local GOP chairman said things were civil and that GOP officials get along fine with the Paul people there. The caucus elected 48 Ron Paul delegates and 5 Mitt Romney delegates, according to a local GOP official.
- Greene County (a large GOP county in Southwest Missouri, encompassing Springfield) elected a mixed slate of 65 Ron Paul delegates, 40 Mitt Romney delegates, and six Rick Santorum delegates. “A few [caucus attendees] got a little loud,” said Danette Proctor, the county GOP chair who presided over the caucus. “But I just said, ‘Be quiet.’”
- In keeping with what seems to be a trend, a Ron Paul supporter in Lincoln County alleged that GOP officials violated caucus rules in an attempt to silence Paul supporters. Quote from a Ron Paul supporter, as posted on a blog: “They practically ignored the State GOP guidelines and rules. The severely butchered Robert’s Rules of Order.” Note: GOP caucuses (in Missouri, as well as in Iowa) are governed by Robert’s Rules of Order, although Missouri counties can use their own rules … and then adopt new rules after electing a caucus chairman. http://bit.ly/xmimXP
*CNBC on the St. Charles GOP caucus madness:
Before even the opening prayer, police were called in to the caucus in St. Charles County to remove a video camera set up by a Paul supporter against the local rules, said Eugene Dokes, the country Republican chairman. Things went downhill from there. Caucus participants "started to become verbally aggressive with event organizers and police officers," said St. Peters Police Officer Melissa Doss.
"It definitely got wild," Dokes said. "I had to tell a number of people not to approach me, not to come from behind me and not to scream at me. I think there was the possibility of someone trying to inflict personal injury or harm to me."
A couple of minutes of video from the St. Charles scene:
*Brent Stafford, one of the Paul folk arrested at St. Charles, has his own account, with a parliamentarian-riffic batch of details:
I was trying to reconvene the meeting in the gymnasium, according to the rules, and was told I have the leave the gym along with everyone else or I would be trespassing. I went outside and tried to let everyone know we were going to try to reconvene. Some people we trying to go to a nearby park to do so, but the rules are clear the the caucus may only be held in the location printed in the Call to Caucus printed in a newspaper 15 days prior. The ONLY place we could reconvene was at the high school.
I stood on a chair to address the crowd to let them know we were going to reconvene and what we needed to do. At that point I was approached by told I was under arrest....
Eugene Dokes [St. Charles County Republican Committee Chairman] started the meeting by immediately declaring there would be no video or audio recording allowed, and that if anyone refused to stop, they would be removed by police. The entire room of what has been reported as over 2,500 people began booing and demanding that recording be allowed. It was not just Ron Paul people.
Eugene Dokes then refused to commence the meeting until everyone stopped recording. I made multiple attempts to make a point of order to address the situation, but he refused to acknowledge me. He then left the podium and called the police.
There were St. Peters Police, St. Charles Police, St. Charles County Sheriffs, and Missouri Highway Patrol that eventually came into the gymnasium and through threat of arrest made everyone turn off their cameras. Of course many did not.
Eugene Dokes then started to convene the meeting a second time.
Let me digress a moment. We had prepared very well ahead of time. I won't get into all of the details, but the Mitt Romney people agreed to support me for Chairman. This was an incredible vote of confidence in my ability to chair and to convene a fair process. I had also hire the President of the Missouri Association of Parliamentarians who I intended to appoint for that role. I never got that chance.
Eugene Dokes appoint the Creditial Committee, Rules Committee, and Parliamentarian. These are all appointments made by the elected Chairman, not the temporary Chair which is what Eugene Dokes was acting as. The body loudly booed and started making all kinds of points of order and other declarations of disgust at the blatant disregard for the proper process.
He then opened the floor for nominations. I immediately started nominating myself multiple times. He recognized a woman, who was obviously preselected, who nominated Matt Ehlen. At that point about 2,000 people started chanting my name to be appointed. Eugene Dokes ignored that and called a hasty voice vote and declared the one nominee, Matt Ehlen, as the Chair.
Hundreds of people started calling for Division of the vote. Eugene Dokes ignored them all.
Matt Ehlen took the podium and tried to regain order. After anout 20 seconds he declared that St. Charles County would not send any delegates to the CD and State Conventions. He quickly found motions to adjourn and closed the meeting....
*ABC's Jason Volack has a good piece summing up some GOP county brouhahas involving Paul people outside Missouri as well:
In Iowa, a half dozen counties reported disruptions during conventions. The most egregious example occurred in Polk County, where Paul supporters illegally tried to become delegates.
“They were abrasive, offensive, and self-centered,” said Kevin McLaughlin, GOP chairman in Polk County.
In Colorado, Ron Paul supporters shouted down Denver County GOP Chairman Danny Stroud, demanding rule changes in favor of their candidate.
“A small, loud group attempted to hijack the assembly and trample on the rights of those who took time out of their busy lives to participate in the political process,” Stroud said in a statement to the Denver Post....
However, Iowa’s McLaughlin said Paul supporters were attempting to become delegates illegally.
State law clearly defines the manner in which delegates are elected, at precinct caucuses, yet some Paul supporters argued for a rule change that would allow them to be seated.
They were eventually voted down, but not before some protesters were thrown out because of repeated disruptions, including sneaking around backstage. Some were caught rifling through delegate packets trying to find precincts where people did not show up so they could claim those seats....
*The indispensable Paul fan news and commentary site Daily Paul has a useful and long open thread on Missouri shenanigans.
*In Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, Paul fans claim their slate of delegates is real while the "official" one is illegal.
*In fundraising terms, while Paul continues to pull in pretty big bucks minus any outright wins, his February take of $3.3 million was smaller than his January take of $4.5 million, and he's sitting on around $1.6 million right now, as ABC reports.
*In other Pauliana: Take the Ron Paul Supporter Quiz, and find out if you be Ronulan, Paultard, Paulite, Paulista, just Paul-Curious, or an enemy of liberty.
Some highlights: Paul has done better in percentage terms in every state except Mississippi, with the largest percentage point increases in Virginia (36), Wyoming (21), Vermont (18), Maine and Washington (both 17).
In raw vote terms, again doubling and more his total very common, with the best increases in Vermont (5.8x), Virginia (4.9x), South Carolina (4.85x) Washington (4.73x), and New Hampshire (3.11x).
My April Reason magazine cover story on Paul's campaign, and my forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.