SPARKS — An impassioned motion to revoke credentials for more than 300 delegates who arrived after the meeting began. Heated questions about the presence of guests and whether they were voting. An angry motion to remove the convention chairman. And that was just for starters.
More than 1,600 county delegates today gathered at the Nevada Republican Party (NRP) convention in Sparks in a meeting that fluctuated between contentiousness and calm as the hours rolled on.
More than a dozen delegates spoke with concern about the large difference between the number of delegates in the preliminary and final credentials reports. Hundreds of people registered after the meeting’s 9 a.m. start, causing consternation and raising ire as attendees argued over their legitimacy.
At one point, the chairwoman of the Credentials Committee, Eileen Rice, had to ask delegates to calm down and respect the process.
“Please don’t talk over me,” Rice forcefully admonished one vocal objector.
Eventually, convention leaders and representatives from both the Ron Paul and Mitt Romney campaigns gathered to work out an agreement and communicated with their delegates via volunteer whips on the floor. The vote to credential all valid delegates regardless of sign-in time was nearly unanimous.
Though tempers flared and shouting occurred frequently during motions and subsequent discussions, each point of order was addressed and each motion eventually voted up or down without the fist fights feared by some.
The most egregious impropriety occurred when Romney supporters were caught distributing a “fake” slate of Ron Paul delegates. They were asked to cease their activities and delegates were informed of the differences between the fake and real slates as the convention chairman called for order and respect for the process.
RNC national committee members replaced
The most notable vote of the day came when the sitting Nevada Committeeman and Committeewoman for the Republican National Party were both deposed by wide margins.
Committeewoman and Romney supporter Heidi Smith caused a stir when she spoke briefly but passionately before the election.
“The only way we can get that damn socialist out of the White House is to vote for the man who will do it!” Smith stated emphatically. She then held up a Mitt Romney sign as Ron Paul supporters booed loudly.
Diana Orrock, a self-described Constitutional conservative from Clark County who had the support of the Ron Paul contingent, won Committeewoman handily with more than 900 votes. Nevada Republican Party vice-chairman James Smack, also a favorite among Ron Paul supporters, also easily beat longstanding Committeeman and former Gov. Bob List with 932 votes to List’s 623.
Orrock and Smack will take office and serve their term of four years after their elections are ratified at the Republican national convention in Tampa in August.
Romney’s son, Ron Paul delivered short speeches
Josh Romney, whose father Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucus on Feb. 4 with 50 percent of the vote, gave a brief speech to the crowd before lunch. He encouraged unity and gave a nod to the many Paul supporters in the room.
“I recognize that Congressman Paul is still in the race and working hard,” said Romney.
Romney also reminded the room that President Obama said during his 2008 campaign that if he did not fix the financial situation in the country, he’d be facing a “one term proposition.”
“Well, Mr. President, we’re here to collect,” quipped Romney.
Rep. Ron Paul spoke for 16 minutes in the mid-afternoon, gifting the room with nuggets of Paulian wisdom including the usual calls for a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, an end to unauthorized wars and the shrinking of government.
Paul’s campaign has been organizing in Nevada for months with plans to dominate at the state convention and attempt to elect a majority slate of national delegates. Votes throughout the deal revealed a roughly even split between Romney and Paul supporters in the room.
Rep. Mark Amodei also addressed the convention, but other top GOP leaders including Gov. Sandoval, Rep. Joe Heck and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller were not present.
Rules and bylaws a point of concern for delegates attempting to control process
A key vote occurred early in the day when delegates decided to sustain a new rule that once a quorum was established, a challenge to the quorum or another call for quorum would not be permitted until all convention business was completed.
The rule enables the convention to go on even if some delegates were to leave.
Late Saturday night, amendments to party Bylaws were being proposed and voted upon as the counting of votes for delegates to the national convention ensued. Numerous shouting matches broke out between delegates and at one point the exhausted chairwoman of the Bylaws Committee seemed to be on the verge of tears as she pleaded for patience.
Battle over delegates to national convention
After all the votes were counted and verified early Sunday morning, the Ron Paul slate came out on top with a whopping 22 delegates to Romney’s three.
Thirteen at-large delegates were elected along with delegates from the four congressional districts. All three of Romney’s delegates were from Congressional District Two.
The three unelected state delegates — party chairman Michael McDonald and national committee members Bob List and Heidi Smith — are expected to support Romney, resulting in 22 Paul delegates and six Romney delegates.
By national convention rules which require proportional voting, Romney will still be entitled to get 20 Nevada delegate votes on the first ballot. However, if a second ballot were to occur, delegates would be allowed to vote for their preferred candidate.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) earlier this week had said it might not seat the Nevada delegation at the national convention if there are a disproportionate number of Paul supporters in it. Sanctions by the RNC could also include replacing challenged Paul delegates with Romney delegates.
Ultimately, the number of Paul vs. Romney delegates from Nevada will likely not matter because Romney has dominated so many state primaries and caucuses that he is expected to easily win the party’s nomination for president.
Sunday’s agenda will include any unfinished business from Saturday plus the Resolutions Committee and Platform Committee Reports.