Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tempest in Tampa?

Nevada's own "Governor Sunny", Brian Sandoval, is set to take part in tonight's lineup of speakers at the first full day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Yet even though Sandoval seems to be going out of his way to deliver a speech that will get the teabaggers hooting and hollering, he may ultimately be overshadowed by another group of Nevadans. Oh, yes. That's right. They're still there.

Rep. Ron Paul’s delegates are trying to mount a floor fight over new GOP rules designed to limit the ability of insurgent presidential candidates to amass delegates to future Republican conventions.

They are getting help from other delegates, though it is unclear whether they can rally enough support to challenge the rules on the floor of the convention Tuesday. [...]

“It’s so heavily scripted. This is not the forum in which they want to air the proverbial dirty laundry,” said Juliette Jordal, a Paul delegate from Minnesota. [...]

“A lot of people who get elected as delegates and alternates to the convention are people who have been paying their dues for years and years,” said Stavros Mendros, a Paul delegate from Maine. “I think it’s a big mistake for the RNC to make.”

Last week, there were signs of strong discontent among Ron Paul's Island of Misfit Toys band of delegates. And now that Mitt Romney's campaign wants to change RNC rules to permanently transfer delegate selection powers from state parties (which allow for some kind of election) to Presidential Campaigns (which will be more interested in hand-picking certain allies). It looks like Paul's troops are picking up allies in this fight, but it's still unclear as to how far they can ultimately go before Romney's choreographers aides knock the "Paulista Revolutionaries" off the program.

However, Paul's troops refuse to go away quietly. And actually, they've already been causing trouble for the entire Nevada delegation. For one, the Nevada delegation has been placed in "the nosebleed section" of the convention center. And to make things worse, the big name G-O-TEA politicians are staying away from them. And since conventions are often defined by access and "schmoozing", it really hurts for the Romney alternates who wanted to enjoy the "pomp and circumstance" of the convention.

“Yes, I was elected an alternate (delegate), much to the dismay of some of the Ron Paul delegates,” former state Sen. Sue Lowden said before remarking that she and others who supported Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum in the primary have managed to move on.

While Paul’s supporters control the Nevada delegation, the alternates are almost all Romney supporters, meaning the two sides are roughly equal in force when it comes to activities off the actual convention floor.

It makes for some awkward encounters.

At a breakfast Monday, the delegates were polite to each other, but the tension was evident. One Romney supporter insinuated someone had “walked off” with a batch of guest passes to the convention hall. A Paul supporter accused a Romney supporter of trying to “take over the delegation.”

Typically, such breakfasts are headlined by a guest speaker, a party superstar or at least an elected official. But most of Nevada’s top elected Republicans have steered clear of the convention.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Joe Heck remained in Nevada.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is in Tampa, but only because he will deliver a primetime speech before the convention. He apparently hasn’t scheduled any time with the Nevada delegation.

“You won’t see him before this group,” Lowden said. “They’ve booed him. Why would he come here?

Yes, that was indeed "Chicken Lady" Sue Lowden throwing a temper tantrum over the Paulistas ruining her party. I'll try to contain my laughter over Lowden trying to remain politically relevant for a moment to make this point, so here goes. While conventions have become more about the "pomp and circumstance" and schmoozing and hot parties in recent election cycles, they are technically supposed to be about defining who makes a political party and what the party believes in. This is what continues to motivate Ron Paul's followers to make their "last stand" in Tampa this week.

And that's what should really scare the RNC. Even though Paul's troops may only make up a small faction inside the convention center, they represent a much larger and more serious problem that looms outside the convention hall. As the G-O-TEA becomes increasingly overwhelmingly old, white, straight, and male, Republican insiders are starting to worry about the future beyond this election. While they're letting Mitt Romney try "one more time" a strategy of winning by way of exclusively appealing to older white (and mostly straight & male) voters, they know this strategy provides immense risk when it comes to paving the path to future relevancy for Republicans in an increasingly diverse country.

Even though Ron Paul himself also has limited appeal, it can't be ignored that his band of supporters looks awfully younger and at least a tad bit more diverse than Mitt Romney's... And for that matter, Rick Santorum's and Newt Gingrich's respective supporters. So perhaps Sue Lowden shouldn't try too hard to make Ron Paul's Nevada delegates feel so unwelcome. If she and Romney's operatives succeed too much, then Romney himself may ultimately live to regret it.

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