AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — With Ron Paul forces at the reins, the Maine Republican Convention elected a majority slate supporting the Texas congressman to the GOP national convention, party officials said as the two-day convention neared its end Sunday.
With Ron Paul forces at the reins, the Maine Republican Convention elected a majority of delegates who’ll support the Texas congressman at the GOP national convention even though Mitt Romney won the state’s nobinding caucuses, party officials said Sunday.
The names of 15 at-large delegates from Maine to the GOP nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., were posted Sunday as votes for the other delegation seats remained undecided. Maine is allotted a total of 24 delegates to the national convention.
Padding Paul’s lead were all three delegates from one of Maine’s two congressional districts, while those from the second distrct and three other slots remained uncounted. Paul supporters also won most seats on the state committee for a near-complete takeover of the Maine Republican Party.
“It’s certainly a significant victory,” said Jim Azzola of South Portland, Cumberland County coordinator for Paul. The votes were to become finalized when the convention closes.
Ron Paul supporters, who essentially took over the convention Saturday after electing a convention chairman, say Maine would become the sixth state to elect a majority of Paul supporters to the national convention, assuring the libertarian-leaning congressman a prime-time podium at the Tampa gathering.
Paul finished a close second behind the presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Maine’s GOP caucuses in February but those results were nonbinding.
Charles Cragin, a Romney supporter who lost Saturday’s bid to chair the convention, called the turn of events at the Maine convention “bizarre.” Cragin said the Paul-led delegation may not be recognized at the national convention because of violations of rules of procedure this weekend in Augusta.
“They have so phenomenally screwed this up that they will go to Tampa and not be seated,” Cragin said.
The announcement of Maine’s at-large delegates came in the wake of charges and counter-charges of ballot tampering and other indiscretions leading to the election of a Paul slate and the mainstream faction’s efforts to block it.
Paul supporters accused the Romney crowd of photocopying copies of the Paul slate and substituting Romney backers to trick delegates.
“We came here to see democracy in action. We are floored by what happened, absolutely floored to see the cheating,” said Elizabeth Shardlow of Auburn, a Paul activist.
Cragin said Paul supporters bent and suspended the rules of procedure in their favor, endangering the state’s standing when the national convention’s credentials committee reviews this weekend’s delegate-selection process.
“When you have no rules, you have anarchy,” Cragin said.
Another Romney supporter, delegate John Carson of Kittery, acknowledged “this is a split convention.”
“The Paul supporters have had a successful process and should be congratulated on that,” said Carson, a veteran of numerous state conventions. “I think it’s important that the Romney camp and Paul camp come together and support a single candidate,” Carson said, adding that candidate should be Romney.
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