The Republican National Committee has sent a stern letter to the Nevada Republican Party warning the state not to draw too heavily from supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul (R) for its delegates, reports DC insider blog “The Hill.” If the delegation fails to feature the 20 out of 28 supporters it needs for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R), the national committee has warned that it will refuse to seat them at the Republican National Convention this summer.
Rachel Maddow has reported that at this juncture, no delegates have been awarded to any of the candidates from Michigan, Iowa and other states including Nevada. Paul and his supporters have been using their own strategy, including some of the more obscure rules of delegate selection, to pack state committees with their own delegates.
Paul enjoys strong support in Nevada. National officials are becoming worried that the congressman’s popularity could throw a wrench into the works of an otherwise smooth nomination process for Romney.
RNC chief counsel John R. Phillippe Jr. wrote to Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald, “I believe it is highly likely that any committee with jurisdiction over the matter would find improper any change to the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegates, thus jeopardizing the seating of Nevada’s entire delegation to the National Convention.”
Typically, delegate distribution is meant to reflect the state’s caucus vote, which took place on February 4, with Romney winning more than 50 percent of the votes cast. National Republicans are concerned that Paul-friendly delegates will use their power in Nevada to game the state convention in Sparks, Nevada this weekend, thus opening the possibility that they will send a delegation to Tampa this summer that will flout party rules and support their candidate over the party’s nominee.
Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston wrote that Nevada’s GOP chair McDonald is “close to some of the Paul folks. He adds that he doesn’t think Paul’s supporters “respect authority too much,” which creates the distinct possibility of havoc this weekend, a prospect that Ralston finds “too delicious.”
Paul himself expressed optimism in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday.
“Just look at this last week,” he said, “The news is very favorable to us. We could even end up winning Iowa, ironically enough. In Minnesota, we’re doing well, and Maine, Nevada and Missouri. We’re doing very, very well. Some of the states we could very well win or come up very much because the delegate process is completely different than these straw votes. We’re pleased … It’s another month or so until they count all the delegates and we find out where we stand.”
Initial vote counts said that Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucus, which was one of the earliest primary votes, held on January 3. Recounts have since then shown that the majority of votes in the state were actually won by Paul.