Delegates supporting Ron Paul might not win over a majority of Washington Republicans today and Saturday at the party’s state convention, but their organizers urged them Thursday to “go forward from Tacoma to remake the Washington State Republican Party.”
That appeal came from Matt Dubin as he revved up a crowd of more than 200 Paul devotees at the Landmark Catering and Convention Center.
While most Republicans were listening to conservative commentator Michelle Malkin at the other end of downtown, Paul supporters mingled, listened to speeches of their own and trained for a fight to gain as many delegates as possible to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
But they also looked to the future. Many in the crowd are running to be precinct committee officers, the neighborhood representatives who have a say in how the party runs.
“We are the new activist branch of the Republican Party,” Dubin said, “and soon, very soon, all GOP candidates will be forced to seek our support if they want any chance of success.”
Sure enough, several candidates took the stage Thursday evening. Some, like Richard Sanders, the former state Supreme Court justice trying to return to the court, have for a while been identified with Paul’s libertarian movement.
Others have not. Spokane state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, praised Paul, but said he hasn’t picked a presidential candidate. Two of his Republican rivals in the primary election, Art Coday and Glen Stockwell, also spoke.
So did other congressional, legislative and statewide candidates, mostly of a Paul bent, inclined toward small government, suspicion of the powerful and a less belligerent foreign policy.
State Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley disputed criticism of Paul as an isolationist, one of the biggest knocks on him from other Republicans.
“It’s not isolationist to want to send our missionaries and our charities all around the world instead of our guns and our tanks,” Shea said.
Paul supporters complain that the party establishment has done its best to shut them out.
In particular, they pointed to a group of Republicans from the Paul stronghold of Clark County who weren’t seated as delegates at the convention and another group from Kitsap County who were seated against the Paul campaign’s protests.
One involves whether the Kitsap County convention should have been allowed to reconvene, as it did days after the initial convention ended without electing a full slate of delegates.
The other involves 17 delegates from Clark County who were not seated, said Paul regional director Katja Delavar. She argues the state party was relying on technicalities in the rules to make that decision.
The state GOP said the Clark County delegates had been appointed after the convention rather than elected at the convention itself, so they were invalid.
“They were making up their own rules,” party spokeswoman Meredith Kenny said.
Delegates in Tacoma will break off into congressional districts this afternoon, and each district will elect three national delegates. Paul has his biggest support in the districts in Seattle and Southwest Washington.
“We fought an entrenched political machine that used deception, intimidation and rules violation in a futile attempt to shut us out,” Dubin said. “They failed.”firstname.lastname@example.org 360-786-1826 blog.thenewstribune.com/politics @Jordan_Schrader