Massachusetts backers of presidential hopeful Ron Paul lost this week their quixotic battle to serve as delegates to this month’s Republican National Convention when a national committee agreed that the state GOP had the right to nullify the Paul supporters’ victories in April caucuses in the state.
Now, the 16 Republicans who were disqualified are planning to appeal the committee’s decision Sunday, in a last-ditch attempt to be restored as delegates and alternates to the national convention in Tampa this month.
Paul’s supporters, known as Liberty delegates, were elected in many states and hope to make a strong showing at the convention. Though Paul is no longer campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, his supporters still hope that a strong presence will amplify the Republican congressman’s libertarian message and influence the party’s platform. Republicans have been concerned about mischief-
making at the party’s marquee event, though delegates insist that they do not intend to cause trouble.
The Republican National Convention Committee on Contests ruled last week that Massachusetts had the right to replace the Liberty delegates who had defeated Romney’s preferred candidates in April caucuses. The caucuses take place each presidential election in Massachusetts congressional districts. Because he won the Massachusetts primary so decisively, Romney was the only candidate entitled to receive any of the state’s delegates at the national convention. But at least one elected delegate suggested the Liberty delegates might not support Romney.
That led to concerns from the state GOP, according to the ruling by the committee on contests. As a procedural requirement, a state GOP “allocations committee” asked the delegates to file affidavits swearing to support Romney.
Some of the delegates refused, filed late, or rewrote the language of the affidavits as they saw fit. As a result, the state allocation committee decided there was just cause to remove the Liberty delegates and nominated 16 others to take their places.
The Liberty delegates contended that the allocation committee’s action was unfair because the party’s request for affidavits was not spelled out in state GOP rules. The would-be delegates also said they had already made their commitments to vote for Romney during the caucuses at which they were elected. The national ruling said that the state GOP allocations committee had the authority to demand affidavits within a set deadline.
The Massachusetts Republican Party “was confident that the allocation committee applied fairly the rules governing the delegate selection process for the Republican National Convention,” spokesman Tim Buckley said in a statement. “The RNC’s committee on contests and a federal judge clearly concluded that the MassGOP’s allocation committee was adhering to the rules in place.”
Brad Wyatt, a spokesman for the Liberty delegates who was also disqualified, said Paul’s supporters were not trying to disrupt the convention.
“We’re trying to build a long-term movement here,” Wyatt said. “It would be an embarrassment to the liberty movement and hurt liberty candidates in the future. There’s no point, no goal to distract the convention whatsoever.”