The Problems Oklahoma Dealt with from the Ron Paul Campaign State CoordinatorSubmitted by QFish on Wed, 09/26/2012 - 13:37
Oklahoma has been through a lot this election year. We had problems at our state convention, as many people know. But, it wasn’t just the “establishment” Republicans who we had problems with.
We also had problems with the Ron Paul National Campaign. We haven’t come out and said much about this, but I feel there is no reason to keep this under the radar anymore. This hasn’t been exactly a secret, but some of the details have not been out for all to see. We didn’t want this to cause the Campaign or us any problems back when this was all going down, but right now, I feel it would be beneficial to come out and say some more. I don’t want anyone to think the Ron Paul movement has some kind of tie or support to the person who caused us so much grief.
Back in January of this year, Al Gerhart (with the Sooner Tea Party), was appointed as the Oklahoma State Coordinator for the Ron Paul 2012 Campaign. This was a volunteer position. The end of January, I signed up as a volunteer for the campaign to be the Cherokee County Ron Paul 2012 Campaign Coordinator.
Because I was new to being very politically active, I met Al for the first time at the Ron Paul rally in Oklahoma City the end of February. What I encountered when I met Al was unique. But, it was just the beginning.
Being so new to being really active in the Party, I did not know the Ron Paul grassroots leadership who had been around since 2008, like Brady Wright, Lukus Collins, etc. I was slowly introduced to them via someone in my county, Shannon Grimes (who was also grassroots and had been around since 2008). But, this was a slow process over a month or two. When I signed up to be a county coordinator, I was told to not have contact with the grassroots supporters of Ron Paul. This made things rather difficult. I was torn between trying to coordinate both groups, yet not have contact with the one side.
We had great success in Cherokee County, Oklahoma. But, it had nothing to do with the campaign. I sent emails out to the identified RP supporters in our county and we had a great turn out at our County Convention. That night we came away with just over 50% of the delegates from my County. And it was all by God’s hand.
Anyways, what I attempted to do at first was have another friend be the contact point for the grassroots. But, this quickly showed it was not going to work. I tried to have this work as we were leading up to our District Convention. But, this is when I started to realize things were really fishy with the state coordinator that we had.
A few days before Oklahoma’s Congressional District 2 Convention, Al Gerhart sent an email out with instructions for everyone as to how to vote. The quote that got me was this,
“No doubt there are some grassroots candidates running for the same National Delegate slots but on Saturday you have a choice. Do you support Dr. Paul or do you support unofficial candidates that are unknown to the Ron Paul National Campaign.”
When he put the grassroots supporters up against Ron Paul, as if not voting for these “pre-approved delegates” was voting AGAINST Ron Paul, that was one of the first times I said, “I’m not doing what he says.” We were all in this for the same reason – to WIN delegates for Dr. Paul.
The supposed “vetting” process the delegates went through from the national campaign was simply Al Gerhart’s opinion of who he liked and who he didn’t like. I would later find out that this was not done by a committee of people (as the grassroots did leading up to the state convention to choose our delegate slate).
This email (which was very long), caused some people to not attend the District 2 Convention. People did not want to be directed by Al Gerhart or told they were doing wrong by not following his orders. This cost us delegates. The Convention in District 2 was run fairly and we lost the delegate vote by JUST TWO VOTES. Mr. Gerhart cost us a potential win in District 2. It should be noted that 3 of the 5 District Conventions in Oklahoma had a complete sweep for Ron Paul. They were all run fairly and they were all organized and coordinated by the grassroots. The one other district which we did not win was not run fairly and had a challenge at the state convention.
After the District 2 Convention, I decided to get more involved with the grassroots and forget about the fact that I was not supposed to have any tie with them as an “official volunteer campaign coordinator.” This was the best decision I made!
What I ended up doing, even though I had signed a non-disclosure agreement to be a county coordinator, was forward emails that were sent to the county coordinators to a select few of our grassroots leaders. I was watching emails come in to the county coordinators that laid out detailed plans of how to thwart and disrupt the planning and coordination of the grassroots. No, I am not kidding when I say this. I have a massive amount of emails to prove this.
I would receive emails that would tell the time, date & location of where a grassroots strategy meeting would be taking place. And Mr. Gerhart would specifically tell the county coordinators to go there, see what they are saying and try to change their plan. He would tell the county coordinators to try to tell the grassroots to work with the National campaign. Ha! What he didn’t realize is that WE (as in the grassroots) were more than willing to work with the campaign (and tried to more than once), but Mr. Gerhart was the one opposed to that. I know this sounds outrageous, and it is, but it’s what Oklahoma went through with the national campaign.
We could not take this any longer, so we sent an official request to the national campaign signed by 27 grassroots leaders in the Ron Paul/liberty movement in Oklahoma (I was one of the signatures) asking for the immediate termination of Mr. Gerhart. There were many more who would’ve signed this, but due to time constraints we had to send it with “just” 27 signatures. This was sent the beginning of April.
We made it very clear in this letter that there was nothing that Al was doing that we wanted to be a part of. We told them we didn’t have time for his distractions and wanted him gone right away. We gave examples of the problems he caused us, as well as the problems he caused the liberty movement in Oklahoma by acting inappropriately towards GOP Party leadership. This was not a light issue. We made our case very strongly and clearly. We requested a response from the Campaign within a few days.
Mr. Gerhart came back saying that the National Campaign had dismissed what we had brought forward and that he was in the clear. But, interestingly enough, he stepped down from the Campaign position just about a week or two after the letter was sent with not much of an explanation.
We were very glad to see this, because we did not want him around or trying to coordinate anything as we worked up to Oklahoma’s State Convention.
Of course, having the county coordinator position I had, I received a couple emails from Al regarding my signature on the letter. He wanted explanation before he “fired” me from the position. By that point in the game, I was well “entrenched” with the grassroots coordination and felt a response to Al would only hurt us more. So, I did not respond and ultimately things got quiet because he quickly “resigned.”
At the state committee meeting before Oklahoma’s state convention, he did more to put a bad light on Ron Paul supporters by making a big (unnecessary) scene there. There is question among the Ron Paul supporters in Oklahoma if Mr. Gerhart was even a Ron Paul supporter because of his ridiculous actions and statements. When I witnessed this at the state committee meeting, I was even more thankful that we had requested his removal, because I did not want him thinking he had some kind of role in our coordination and work at the state convention level.
Regardless, Mr. Gerhart did a lot of damage to us in Oklahoma, because many people in the “establishment” thought he represented us. He was the farthest thing from representing the liberty movement and Ron Paul supporters in Oklahoma.
I want this message to be sent to the OK GOP: The Ron Paul supporters in Oklahoma do not condone or support anything Al Gerhart does or stands for.
I also feel that Mr. Gerhart caused us a lot of hurt with regards to the National Campaign’s view of Oklahoma. It felt like we were the “red headed step child” after the state convention. We had so many issues at our state convention, yet the Campaign continually refused to help. Yes, we did reach out to them on more than one occasion (and by more than one of us) and never heard a response. Even when we were dealing with our contest to the RNC.
When I confronted John Tate about the Campaign’s lack of support for Oklahoma, it was obvious Mr. Gerhart had hurt us. John Tate acted as if Oklahoma wanted nothing to do with the campaign. If he talked to Mr. Gerhart, that is what you might get because he twisted so much.
But, if you would have talked to the grassroots, we would have accepted the Campaign’s help (and working with the grassroots) with open arms. We had leaders who would’ve stepped up to the plate – and were ready to long before Mr. Gerhart took the position.
Oklahoma continued to be shunned by the Campaign all through Tampa, but I don’t feel the need to go into all of that right now. I’ll just say it felt like being stabbed in the back – and I told John Tate that when I talked to him at 1:30am at the Marriot the week before the Convention.
Overall we learned a lot through this experience. And I hope the same mistakes won’t be repeated again. It wasn’t easy. But, what has been easy for Oklahoma this election cycle?