Ron Paul’s supporters made an unsuccessful effort Saturday to derail the state Republican Party convention in protest of being shut out of delegate spots to the national convention.
But the vocal Paul backers were outnumbered among the several hundred delegates on the floor of the Columbus Civic Center, and party leaders succeeded in electing a slate of delegates who are united behind the presumptive presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
But many of those who supported Paul, the renegade Texas congressman who continues his bid for the nomination, said the state party is run by insiders, for insiders.
“They’re all party cronies,” Nathan Adams, a Fulton County alternate to the state convention, said of the list of people headed to the Republican National Convention in September in Minneapolis.
Conventioneers on Saturday elected 30 delegates and 30 alternates to the national convention. Thirty-nine other delegates were determined by the results of the Feb. 5 presidential primary, which was won by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The state party chairwoman, the national committeeman and committeewoman are also delegates, giving Georgia a total of 72 spots.
A party nominating committee met Friday and Saturday to create the slate of delegate candidates for the consideration of the full convention.
The list that was presented Saturday included Republicans who originally supported candidates other than McCain, including Huckabee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee.
The list included supporters of “all the main, credible candidates,” Fry said.
But the list did not include Paul supporters, even though the congressman from Texas finished fourth in the state primary, behind Huckabee, McCain and Romney, respectively. Paul received 3 percent of the vote, compared with 34 percent for Huckabee, 32 percent, McCain; and 30 percent, Romney.
Paul’s 28,000 votes were more than those received by Giuliani or Thompson. And Paul’s supporters tried to get their people on the list of delegates to Minneapolis. But party leaders presented the nominating committee’s proposed list as an all-or-nothing proposition. The convention was to vote on the entire list as one, and not take individual votes on each of the 30 proposed delegates.
Paul’s backers tried to block the vote, and failed. They tried to defeat the entire slate, and failed. Each time a voice vote was called, Paul’s supporters made their voices heard. But their stentorian efforts belied their numbers. When convention Chairman Randy Evans declared the voice vote too close to decide, he called for a vote by standing or sitting. Paul’s supporters were about 10 percent of the crowd.
Ultimately, Fry said, the party’s focus must be on electing McCain president in November.
Paul has not abandoned his bid for the nomination, even though he cannot win, and he has refused to say whether he will endorse McCain. All this year’s other Republican presidential candidates have announced their support of McCain.
And that’s why their supporters were chosen to be delegates, Fry said.
“Those are the campaigns willing to come to the table and do what they can to elect John McCain,” Fry said.
But the state convention should be about reflecting the will of the state, said Troy Casey of Stockbridge, a Paul supporter.