Nebraska RecapSubmitted by Laura604 on Sun, 07/15/2012 - 16:43
Laura Ebke, RLC-Nebraska
Since people seem to be interested (to say the least) about what happened in the Nebraska today, I think I'd post a little recap.
If you're interested..
Our numbers--we believed going in--were at about 40% of the total delegates. As I told many people, we didn't have the majority. I also told a number of people that how well we did would probably depend on how well the Romney forces were organized, and how many folks in rural areas decided to stay home and irrigate their corn instead of coming to the convention. Based on the credentials report, attendance was at about 96% of the elected delegates--an extraordinary number, really. Of course that made our job tougher, since we looked to be behind by about a 60-40 split.
We wanted to see how much firepower we actually had--we had a credentials challenge, and a rules challenge. We lost both by voice vote, and called for a division, which resulted in standing votes. In one instance, we lost 58-42%. In the other, we lost by about 62-38%. In other words we were in trouble.
In normal years, having 40% of the vote voting as a bloc would have allowed us to take most of the convention delegates, because the "slates" would typically have been very week, and "suggestions" rather than "demands" from the campaign. This year was different, as our Governor, as a result of the national media attention, the assorted "threats" of press/observers/crowds coming into the state (which thankfully didn't occur), and an earlier run in we'd had with him on another issue--decided to exercise more control over the slate than usual. He *personally* called delegates (and apparently *personally* chose the Romney slate, in large part) and told them to vote ONLY the slate. I don't know the details of what he said, but it appears to have worked--their slates held together as well as ours did--except that they typically had a 50-60 vote margin difference for the delegates on their slate, over the delegates on our slate.
We won in the 2nd District, and displaced the Romney slate there--because we had superior numbers there. But that's the only place where we had superior numbers.
There was no cheating. The voting process appeared to all who observed to be very clean. The question of the "official slate" had nothing to do with the campaign. The RLC was the de facto campaign in the state (although we did occasional have contact with campaign staff, and one was in Nebraska on Saturday). When the State Chair called me up and told me that they were offering both campaigns the option of having their "official slate" on the ballot, I declined. That may or may not have been a strategic mistake, however given that the "establishment" would have then seen the names on our slate, and that they had the majority to begin with, I judged that NOT showing our hand till we got there made sense--in hopes that we might coalition with some other groups for delegates.
The ballots were paper ballots, marked like any "scantron" type of test sheet. The voting process was organized, ballots were placed in locked boxes on the floor, and "official" observers (myself, one of my folks, or the campaign staff) accompanied the ballots to the counting room, where they were unlocked and put into the reader.
Given that there were 130-some odd candidates for delegate, and we were to choose either 3 or 23 (depending on CD or At-Large election), counting machines made sense.
If we had reason to believe that there might have been fraud of some sort, the numbers eliminated that concern, really. Our slate candidates all got between 120 and 135 on all at-large votes (and votes closely correspondent to the number we had confirmed as "ours" in each CD). The Romney slate numbers were consistent, as well--ranging in the 185-210 range.
We believe that it was a clean convention. Perhaps not ideal processes, but pretty good, and fair. We just got beat--they organized, too, and we didn't have the numbers.