It's going to get nasty in Missouri tomorrow, April 19Submitted by LatinsforPaul on Fri, 04/18/2008 - 16:35
Kirkwood High ground zero for battle between GOP regulars and Ron Paul activists
By Jo Mannies
POST-DISPATCH REGIONAL POLITICAL CORESPONDENT
Kirkwood High School is expected to be one of the hottest political spots in the state Saturday, as Missouri's Republican establishment and supporters of renegade presidential contender Ron Paul tangle once again.
Last month, the Texas congressman's passionate supporters shocked party regulars by taking control of local caucus sites around the state. As a result, many Paul allies were elected as delegates to the nine Republican congressional district conventions set for Saturday.
At those conventions, delegates will vote on some of the issue positions in the state GOP's platform and select some of the people who will attend the Republican presidential convention in Minneapolis. Among other things, GOP leaders fear the Paul forces — who oppose the Patriot Act and the Iraq war — also want to change the party rules so that the state's 58 presidential delegates won't be required to support Sen. John McCain, the presumed presidential nominee and winner of Missouri's Feb. 5 Republican primary.
In recent days, a number of pro-Paul congressional district delegates have gotten letters telling them that their credentials are being challenged and that they might be barred from Saturday's gatherings.
Many of those challenged delegates expect to take part in the 2nd Congressional District convention, set for Kirkwood High's cafeteria. Other potential confrontations are likely at the 5th Congressional District site in Kansas City and the 7th District in Springfield, Mo., also hotbeds of Paul allies.
Paul national field director Debbie Hopper, of Fenton, asserted that state GOP leaders "can't tolerate any idea of dissension within the Republican Party. We all have to rally around McCain, a candidate who doesn't represent Republican values."
State Republican Party executive director Jared Craighead replied, "We believe the party has been fair to everyone involved."
Craighead acknowledged that some Paul supporters were true Republicans but added that party regulars determined that some other elected district delegates were really Libertarians or Democrats who will be barred from taking part.
Security measures are planned at the Kirkwood site and at the Maryland Heights Community Center, where the 1st District convention is to be held.
But Tom Wilsdon, 1st District Republican chairman, expects few problems. Pro-Paul delegate Nick Kasoff of the 1st District said he's already received two robo-calls reminding him to attend Saturday's convention.