By Grace Wyler- Business Insider
By now, it is clear that the Maine caucuses were a complete mess.
Evidence is mounting that Mitt Romney's 194-vote victory over Ron Paul
was prematurely announced, if not totally wrong. Washington County
canceled their caucus on Saturday on account of three inches of snow
(hardly a blizzard by Maine standards), and other towns that scheduled
their caucuses for this week have been left out of the vote count. Now,
it looks like caucuses that did take place before Feb. 11 have also been
left out of final tally.
As the full extent of the chaos unfolds, sources close to the Paul campaign tell Business Insider
that it is looking increasingly like Romney's team might have a hand in
denying Paul votes, noting that Romney has some admirably ruthless
operatives on his side and a powerful incentive to avoid a fifth caucus
loss this month.
According to the Paul campaign, the Maine Republican Party is
severely under-reporting Paul's results — and Romney isn't getting the
same treatment. For example, nearly all the towns in Waldo County — a
Ron Paul stronghold – held their caucuses on Feb. 4, but the state GOP
reported no results for those towns. In Waterville, a college town in
Central Maine, results were reported but not included in the party vote
count. Paul beat Romney 21-5 there, according to the Kennebec County
"It's too common," senior advisor Doug Wead told Business Insider. "If it was chaos, we would expect strong Romney counties to be unreported, and that's not what's happening."
The Maine Republican Party won't decide which votes it will count
until the executive committee meets next month. But Wead points out that
even if Mitt Romney holds on to his slim lead, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.
"He will have disenfranchised all of these people," Wead said. "It could be a costly victory — it is a mistake."
The (alleged) bias against Paul may also be the product of an organic
opposition to the libertarian Congressman and his army of ardent fans.
Paul volunteers tend to be young and relatively new to party politics,
and their presence has many state GOP stalwarts feeling territorial.
"People feel threatened — they don't want to see a bunch of kids who
may have voted for Barack Obama take over," Wead said. "They feel a
sense of ownership over the party — but there has to be an
But state party machinations are already starting to backfire. The
Paul campaign believes it has won the majority of Maine's delegates —
and the perceived election fraud has galvanized Paul supporters to
demand their votes be counted in the state's straw poll 'beauty
Caucus chaos has also proved to be fertile ground for Paul's quiet
takeover of the Republican Party. Since 2008, the campaign and Paul's
Campaign for Liberty PAC have made a concerted effort to get Paul
sympathists involved in the political process. Now, tumult in state
party organizations has allowed these supporters to rise up the ranks.
"We like strong party leadership when it comes from us," Paul
campaign chair Jesse Benton told Business Insider. "Our people work very
hard to make sure that their voice is heard."
The fruits of this labor are evident in Iowa, where Paul's former
state campaign co-chair A.J. Spiker was just elected as the new chairman
of the Iowa Republican Party. Spiker replaces Matt Strawn, who stepped
down over this year's Iowa caucus dustup. In Nevada, the state chair has
also resigned over caucus disaster, and several Ron Paul supporters are
well-positioned to step up to fill the void. These new leaders not only
expand Paul's influence at the state level, but also help protect Paul
and his hard-won delegates from state party machinations as the
delegate-selection process moves to district and state conventions, and
eventually the Republican National Convention this summer.
"We are always trying to bring people into the party," Benton said.
"I think that is a very positive thing for Republicans. Ron is the
person who can build the Republican base, bring new blood into the
party. That's how you build the party."
In Maine, the caucus disaster has made the state GOP prime for a Ron
Paul takeover. And that means that Paul's hard-won delegates will be
protected as the delegate selection process
"We are taking over the party," Wead told BI. "That's the important thing — and that is what we are doing in Maine."
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/ron-paul-maine-caucuses-gop-takeover-2012-2#ixzz1mZnaXpMp
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