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Indiana GOP ready for Paul delegates at convention

June 5, 2012

Ron Paul supporters who have stormed political conventions across the country in hopes of helping to shape the Republican Party's national platform aren't likely to make much headway in Indiana when the GOP convenes for its annual convention, due largely to how the state awards its delegates.

Paul has effectively suspended his race for president, but his supporters have pressed on with hopes of crafting the party's national platform by winning delegate seats in state-level convention battles.

They've been successful in several states. In Minnesota, Paul supporters won 12 of 13 delegate seats to the Republican National Convention. Last month In Maine they won 21 of 24 delegate seats to the national convention. And last weekend, Paul supporters in Louisiana picked up roughly half of that state's delegates.

The strategy isn't likely to work in Indiana, which will formally pick 43 delegates to the national convention this weekend. Under state law, 27 delegates are guaranteed votes for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney because he won the state's May 8 Republican primary. The other 16 at-large delegates are free to support any candidate.

Indiana Republican Party spokesman Pete Seat said he is unaware of any plans by Paul supporters to overtake the convention, which opens Friday, and expects things to go smoothly.

Clark County delegate Martina Webster said that is because party leaders have worked quietly to make it harder for Paul delegates to make it to the convention. Webster supported Paul at the state convention in 2008 and is going again as a Paul delegate.

Webster said Republican candidates for delegate were required to get written approval from their local chairman before they could go to the convention. Paul supporters say the "IRSC-CA 1" form was designed to screen Paul delegates.

"The Indiana State Republican Party is pretty well organized," Webster said. "The Paul people, we don't hold a candle next to them. I don't understand why they feel that threatened."

Seat said the rule is in keeping with Indiana law, which has county chairmen sign off on candidates to show they are in good standing with the party. "There is nothing new," he said, calling the form a "redundant" piece of record-keeping.

Paul supporters have complained they aren't being allowed access to the convention. Clark County Republican activist Jerry McHugh filed a complaint with the attorney general's office when it appeared that a pair of Paul supporters from Clark County would not get seated.

McHugh is a longtime Republican organizer who is not supporting Paul but said he sympathizes with his supporters and other anti-establishment groups like the tea party.

McHugh said party leaders typically try to keep anti-establishment picks out of the process through various means.

"It does appear to be directed more often than not at tea-party oriented delegates or Paul delegates," he said.

Shortly after McHugh filed his complaint, the Clark County Republican chairman reached an agreement with the pair of Paul delegates to get them seated at the state convention.

A spokesman for the Paul presidential campaign did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Dan Dumezich, co-chairman of the Romney campaign in Indiana, said he's confident Romney will win all the state's national delegate seats based on his strong performance in Indiana's May primary but he said he welcomed Paul supporters to the convention.

"At the end of the day, they are part of the republican process," he said. "I think all Republicans are united behind one goal, and that's making sure Barack Obama is a one-term president so he won't continue to destroy our country."

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