Paul supporters continue fight within Idaho GOP as of June 19thSubmitted by Jdayh on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 08:42
Paul supporters continue fight within Idaho GOP
Three M.V. residents headed to national convention in Minn.
By Jared S. Hopkins
The dogs are down. They've been beaten badly.
But they're not dead.
Supporters of former presidential candidate Ron Paul - including newly-elected members of the Twin Falls County Republican Central Committee - are crying foul after just over half of the county's delegates attended the Idaho Republican convention in Sandpoint last weekend.
Central Committee Chairwoman Gretchen Clelland confirmed that just nine of the 16 delegates tapped by the committee attended. But she and other committee members said they were chosen through a normal selection process and sometimes it's difficult for schedules to be adjusted.
"We elected delegates and some of them couldn't make it," said Clelland, who did not seek to be a delegate and instead attended her son's rodeo. "That's sometimes the process, especially when it's all the way in Sandpoint."
At a June 5 meeting, the nearly dozen Paul supporters on the 45-member committee couldn't get enough votes to secure any of the 16 delegate positions. Divisions emerged and during the nomination process Paul supporters unsuccessfully tried to split votes from the sitting committee members.
But Rick Martin, who lost a Buhl precinct race as well as contests for committee chairman and state delegate, said the fact that the delegates didn't attend the convention when Paul supporters were ready and willing was clear discrimination.
"They purposefully nominated what I call 'ghost delegates' to block freedom and opportunity of Ron Paul supporters," said Martin, who attended the convention as a guest. Paul, the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman, suspended his presidential campaign last week.
At the convention, delegates voted 227-169 to elect Norm Semanko party chairman over Kirk Sullivan, who was endorsed by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. They also supported retaining the state's open primary, and added a provision to the state GOP platform demanding the Federal Reserve Bank be dissolved.
Clelland said the 16 alternates didn't attend the convention either. But she and delegates who did attend said the selection process was fair. Some noted most delegations were only partially filled, partly because of the distance - Sandpoint is nearly 600 miles from Twin Falls.
"It seems to me this is almost a bit of sour-graping," said precinct committeeman Stephen Hartgen. "This is a guy who lost on everything."
Laird Stone is among the nominated delegates who was nominated but didn't attend. He said he would've requested to be alternate if he had known he couldn't make it.
"I had some business conflicts I could not get resolved," he said Wednesday. "I knew there was a possibility I might not be able to attend but I didn't know I couldn't get the conflict resolved."
Three of the 29 Idaho delegates going to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., hail from south-central Idaho. They are Hartgen and Chris Harriman of Burley, both unpledged, and Darlene Borman of Hailey, who has backed Sen. John McCain. Six of the state delegates are Paul-pledged. The convention is Sept. 1-4.
Across the aisle, Steve Marcado and Matt Kopydlowski will be among the 23 Idaho delegates for the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Aug. 25 to 28.
Meanwhile, Martin has sued Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden after the state declined to have a recount of Martin's losing precinct race because recounts only apply to "federal, state and county" office.
"It's a friendly lawsuit," said Martin. "I just feel it's a simple misunderstanding of the law."
Fifth District Judge Randy Stoker denied a "writ of mandamus" - ordering the attorney general to perform the recount - on the grounds that Wasden has no "clear duty" to act. Martin said he's waiting to hear back from Wasden.
Jared S. Hopkins may be reached at 208-735-3204 or email@example.com.