Ron Paul’s Georgia supporters succeeded in taking over a delegate-selection convention in a populous county on Saturday and nearly succeeded in another densely populated urban-suburban county.
The Texas congressman’s forces took over the DeKalb County delegate-selection convention in eastern metropolitan Atlanta. The mostly young, well-educated and well off Paul partisans nearly did so in Cobb County in northern metropolitan Atlanta, Republican convention participants in the state told The Washington Times.
Party regulars called the Paul supporters’ efforts a “hijacking.”
The Paul brigades’ strategy was to try to outlast the party regulars at the county conventions, raising unexpected issues and delaying long enough for the regulars who were unprepared for the delays to throw up their hands and leave the convention sites to fulfill other obligations.
“It was absolute bedlam and chaos,” Forsyth County physician and activist Brent Meadows said. “Our county’s convention didn’t end till 6:15 p.m.”
In Cobb County, Newt Gingrich business associate and attorney Randy Evans, the delegate-selection convention chairman, helped turn back the Paulites’ attempt to win a majority that would send delegates to the next delegate selection levels – congressional district and state conventions. This is all part of the process that selects delegates to the Republican presidential nominating convention in Tampa in August.
Georgia sends 76 delegates to the national convention, with 34 of them categorized as “at large” delegates – all bound to vote for Mr. Gingrich on the first three ballots at the national convention.
Mr. Gingrich didn’t not carry all the congressional district so he will not get all 76 delegates. But Mr. Paul carried none of those districts, while a small number went to Mitt Romney. None went to Rick Santorum.
Georgia Republicans had met on Feb. 18 to select delegates to the county conventions. With 47 percent of the total vote, Mr. Gingrich won the March 6 Georgia GOP presidential preference primary, precursor to Saturday’s 159 county conventions, which in turn will elect delegates to the April 14 district conventions.
The Paul campaign’s goal is to have its supporters make up a majority at each district convention and thereby help assure Paulites become delegates to the national GOP convention.