Ron Paul Delegates Set to Mount First Ballot Upset at GOP National Convention

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Credit: Gage Skidmore

 

Reports of Ron Paul’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. While a Monday email sent to reporters regarding Ron Paul’s election strategy has been widely interpreted and spun as the Texas congressman’s withdrawal from the Republican primary– with The Drudge Report running the misleading headline “Paul Out,” and Fox News Channel’s Shep Smith misreporting that Ron Paul is now “out of the race” –the email simply formalized and publicized the Paul campaign’s “guerrilla” delegate strategy of focusing on acquiring delegates instead of making a bid for the popular preference vote in primary states.

If anything, the email signaled that the Paul campaign is more serious than ever about actually winning the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, especially as it comes on the heels of a month-long string of major delegate victories that have bolstered the Ron Paul campaign’s hopes of a brokered convention in Tampa and demonstrated the potential viability of its delegate-focused strategy. After seeing marked results from this strategy, an announcement that the campaign will be pursuing it even more single-mindedly can hardly be interpreted as a retreat.

Last month at IVN, I outlined this strategy:

If the trend continues, and a well-funded, highly-organized, and very energetic Ron Paul campaign continues to sweep up delegates (with a majority of the party’s delegates still up for grabs in large states like California) there is a real and growing possibility that Mitt Romney will not secure enough delegates to win his party’s nomination on the first ballot at the Republican Party convention in Tampa. If this happens, the convention will become a brokered convention and all bound delegates will be “unbound,” allowed to change votes for whichever candidate they choose.

Although it is impossible to determine the actual number without official counts, Paul’s campaign seems quietly self-assured that at this point, many of Mitt Romney’s bound delegates will vote for Ron Paul and hand him the nomination, not because Paul thinks he can charm and persuade them in Tampa, but because the Paul campaign has already stacked each state’s slate of delegates with his own supporters, who have been stealthily getting elected as delegates. There’s no telling how many of Mitt Romney’s currently bound delegates are actually covert Ron Paul supporters ready to turn on a dime after being unbound in a brokered convention and vote for Ron Paul.

Since then, Ron Paul supporters and a few good investigative journalists have been digging deeper into the RNC’s rules for its nominating process on the floor of the national convention in Tampa. What they’ve unearthed is the possibility that Ron Paul doesn’t even need a brokered convention to win the nomination. His covert supporters mentioned in the excerpt above– those who will attend the convention as bound Romney delegates, but who are actually Ron Paul supporters hoping to get past a first ballot– may not be bound to vote for Mitt Romney on the first ballot after all. It’s all in the RNC’s Rule 38, which says:

“No delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound by any attempt of any state or Congressional district to impose the unit rule.”

According to Fox19 Cincinnati’s Ben Swann, citing an article at FairVote.org, Rule 38 has already been interpreted by the RNC’s own legal council to mean that the national party rules do not recognize state laws or procedures that bind delegates to vote for a particular candidate, but that they are free to vote for their individual preference on the floor of the national convention. The issue came up in 2008 when a member of the Utah delegation wanted to vote for Mitt Romney instead of John McCain, to whom Utah’s delegates were bound. Several weeks before the 2008 Republican national convention, Jennifer Sheehan, Legal Council for the RNC, wrote a letter to Nancy Lord, Utah National Committee-Woman, asserting:

“The RNC does not recognize a state’s binding of national delegates, but considers each delegate a free agent who can vote for whoever they choose, and the national convention allows delegates to vote for the individual of their choice, regardless of whether the person’s name is officially placed into nomination or not.”

If this is the case, and again, this is the RNC’s own interpretation of its own rule, with an established and recent precedent (that ironically happened to benefit Mitt Romney in 2008), then Ron Paul may not need to last until the second ballot of a long-shot brokered convention to let loose his stealth delegates. Though their states may have bound them to Romney, once they’re on the convention floor in Tampa, it will be the RNC’s rules that matter and if Paul’s hand is strong enough he could just win his party’s nomination on the first ballot.

Another RNC rule that seems to indicate the primacy of the individual delegate’s preference at the nominating convention is Rule 37, Section (b), which states:

“In the balloting, the vote of each state shall be announced by the chairman of such state’s delegation, or his or her designee; and in case the vote of any state shall be divided, the chairman shall announce the number of votes for each candidate, or for or against any proposition; but if exception is taken by any delegate from that state to the correctness of such announcement by the chairman of that delegation, the chairman of the convention shall direct the roll of members of such delegation to be called, and the result shall be recorded in accordance with the vote of the several delegates in such delegation.”

The final say here seems to be with the will of the individual delegate on the floor, not with the delegate’s state, nor even with the chairman of the state’s delegation to the convention.

If Ron Paul’s supporters outnumber the other delegates in Tampa, he seems to have the parliamentary grounds for a first ballot upset and a primary victory– no brokered convention necessary. If it comes to this, the Romney camp will, no doubt, challenge the convention result. It’s a fight that could end up in the courts. Legally, which would take precedent over the other, the RNC’s rules or state laws that bind delegates to vote for certain candidates on the first ballot of the convention?

As IVN’s Kymberly Bays recently reported, this exact question has already been resolved at the US Supreme Court level: the national party’s rules take precedence over state laws because as a private organization and free association of individuals, a political party has the constitutional right to set its own rules and state laws interfering with that private process violate a political party’s First Amendment rights.

The Monday email is no mystery then– if Ron Paul could win his party’s nomination simply by having enough of his energetic supporters become delegates from their state, why would he spend millions of dollars on radio and television ad purchases to win what amounts to an inconsequential straw poll?

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Fingerlakes fir Ron Paul I will sleep better tonight knowing all you delegates (even Romney and the other pullouts) can vote for Ron Paul on the FIRST ballot. Yes! Please DO vote for him on EVERY ballot. The early patriots had God's help and so do we. God speed the right! And God bless Ron Paul who bravely waves the title of Liberty for us all to follow and defend.
  2. Jack Davis Another delusional Ron Paul supporter.
  3. raywade You know you could be right, we could be delusional. But consider this if you will. We did put up a fight and we will continue to fight until the end. So now please tell us all what you have done outside posting on the internet that Ron Paul supporters are delusional. It is easy to talk but it is hard to become a delegate and spend thousands of dollars to try and get RP the nomination. We may get whipped in the end but you were whipped before you even started.
  4. Rosco1776 I pray Ron Paul gets the nomination but it will be Diebold in November who decides the next potus. :-(
  5. pizzaforme EVERY delegate in EVERY state needs to read this article and know that they can vote their conscience!
  6. Ryan McLain it's a pleasant thought, but Romney is still going to receive the nomination.
  7. Jake Williams So what is new? Most all of the RP delegates have know this from the get go. We will be voting RP first ballot at the RNC. I mean if we had not been planning on doing this from the very start then why would we have bothered in becoming a delegate in the first place. Think. We have known form day one that Romney would win the primary's aka beauty contest. and if we did not vote RP first ballot we would be done for. We became delegates for a reason.
  8. raywade Jake is correct. I am also going to the National Convention and I will vote RP first ballot. As he said we have known this from the start. If we do not do this we do not have a prayer. Even by doing this we still need help to win. There has been an effort to contact all the true Romney Delegates and inform them of rule 38, 37, (section b). If we can convience them to flip on Romney we may have a chance but out side that it is going to be hard. If Ron can make a speech and we can contact most of these Romney delegates then they may just get caught up in the Ron Paul fever and flip on him. If that happens we will win, but that is big if.
  9. Bill Yeah Jake, That's what I'm saying but Terry was saying that USC COULD be invoked. I just want to make sure we all understand and are not leaning on defective arguments.
  10. Jake Williams Terry is right on this one. It has already been settled at the US Supreme court level : the national party's rules take precedence over state laws because as a private organization and free association of individuals, a political party has the constitutional right to set its own rules and state laws interfering with that private process violate a political party's First Amendment rights.
29 comments
raywade
raywade

You know you could be right, we could be delusional. But consider this if you will. We did put up a fight and we will continue to fight until the end. So now please tell us all what you have done outside posting on the internet that Ron Paul supporters are delusional. It is easy to talk but it is hard to become a delegate and spend thousands of dollars to try and get RP the nomination. We may get whipped in the end but you were whipped before you even started.

raywade
raywade

Jake is correct. I am also going to the National Convention and I will vote RP first ballot. As he said we have known this from the start. If we do not do this we do not have a prayer. Even by doing this we still need help to win. There has been an effort to contact all the true Romney Delegates and inform them of rule 38, 37, (section b). If we can convience them to flip on Romney we may have a chance but out side that it is going to be hard. If Ron can make a speech and we can contact most of these Romney delegates then they may just get caught up in the Ron Paul fever and flip on him. If that happens we will win, but that is big if.

Fingerlakes fir Ron Paul
Fingerlakes fir Ron Paul

I will sleep better tonight knowing all you delegates (even Romney and the other pullouts) can vote for Ron Paul on the FIRST ballot. Yes! Please DO vote for him on EVERY ballot. The early patriots had God's help and so do we. God speed the right! And God bless Ron Paul who bravely waves the title of Liberty for us all to follow and defend.

Jack Davis
Jack Davis

Another delusional Ron Paul supporter.

Rosco1776
Rosco1776

I pray Ron Paul gets the nomination but it will be Diebold in November who decides the next potus. :-(

pizzaforme
pizzaforme

EVERY delegate in EVERY state needs to read this article and know that they can vote their conscience!

Ryan McLain
Ryan McLain

it's a pleasant thought, but Romney is still going to receive the nomination.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams

So what is new? Most all of the RP delegates have know this from the get go. We will be voting RP first ballot at the RNC. I mean if we had not been planning on doing this from the very start then why would we have bothered in becoming a delegate in the first place. Think. We have known form day one that Romney would win the primary's aka beauty contest. and if we did not vote RP first ballot we would be done for. We became delegates for a reason.

Lynette L King
Lynette L King

Good "GO FOR IT" !!! And I hope it is SUCCESSFUL !!! I'll be praying for you;

Benjamin
Benjamin

I'm digging this "skirt around the establishment" modus operandi! Since the establishment is notorious for slow reaction time because of their deeply entrenched methods, the agility of Ron Paul's campaign is throwing them for a loop! Out with the old... In with the new!

Peggypoo
Peggypoo

The problem with this feelgood article is it's not accurate. The first and second paragraphs completely contradict what both Benton and Wead have said. It suggests that Paul has just made what has been his strategy official while completely ignoring that Paul has said, through two spokesmen that Romney is going to be the nominee. You don't tell your base supporters that a brokered convention is impossible and that your candidate will not be come president if you are still trying to become president. You don't tell your base that your new goal is to "effect the national platform" if your real goal is still to become president.

lakawak
lakawak

Even Ron Paul laughs at this. Or he would if it didn't make him look so bad.

janet
janet

If it were OBAMA he could just write an executive order and have it his way. Ron Paul or Liberty minded people follow the rules something Obama could learn from us. With our country and liberties at stake you can bet we want to win a peaceful revolution without any violence. I pray Obama sees this as an intellectual revolution and proves to us brains not violence is the answer.

Jon Wilson
Jon Wilson

Good, if only he was Gary Johnson.

Matthew
Matthew

I'd give the strategy a lot more credence if there were substantial pick-ups in West Virginia, Arizona, and Oklahoma the past 8 days. It amounted to 3 Paul delegates (pledged to Romney, but let's just assume they abstain on first ballot) out of 103. It needs to be more like Iowa, Minnesota, and Maine or there's no chance for more than a token protest.

RP
RP

Well done! Very good article. RON PAUL 2012!! I cant wait till convention time. Don't forget the money bomb tomorrow May 17.

Mk
Mk

Now that's what I'm talkin about......

RP 2012

libertybells
libertybells

Ahhh a refreshing read, thanks for this well written article : )

Mike
Mike

PSH GOOOOOO RON PAUL!! WHIP THEM WITH THE CONSTITUTION

WOOOO!!!!

Terry Sandars
Terry Sandars

It says what it says and we can use Rule 38. Not only that there is a law which says you can not intimidate a voter into voting for some one which Massachusetts is trying to do with the phony Affidavits.

18 USC § 594 - Intimidation of voters

Whoever intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, at any election held solely or in part for the purpose of electing such candidate, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Will Silva
Will Silva

If only Gary Johnson was Dr. Paul

Neville
Neville

I think if you look more closely, you'll find that the Arizona results aren't even counted yet, much less accurately and officially reported. Furthermore, in Oklahoma, video evidence seems to indicate that the convention was properly re-convened after being improperly adjourned, and the result of the convention was actually a near-Paul sweep.

Don't be too hasty to write OK and AZ off. Re. WV, I'll need to go look again at Frontloading HQ, but I believe that the Romney campaign over-subscribed the delegate nominations and the result was almost guaranteed to water down the Romney vote.

Bill
Bill

Terry, Your USC quote is only controlling over those office elections stated in that statute. It is not controlling over the election of high school class presidents, the election of the president of my homeowners association, nor the election of nominee of some other private organization which is the case with the Tampa GOP convention.

So far the best reasoning for delegates to unbind is due to the president set in 2008 where RNC council established that Romneys delegate was in fact unbound as the legal team interpreted the Roberts Rules.

Bill
Bill

Yeah Jake, That's what I'm saying but Terry was saying that USC COULD be invoked. I just want to make sure we all understand and are not leaning on defective arguments.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams

Terry is right on this one. It has already been settled at the US Supreme court level : the national party's rules take precedence over state laws because as a private organization and free association of individuals, a political party has the constitutional right to set its own rules and state laws interfering with that private process violate a political party's First Amendment rights.