Maine Delegation at the RNC

Following a credentialling battle and unruly parliamentary challenges, a large portion of the Maine delegation to the Republican National Convention walked out in protest Tuesday.  

The Maine convention had chosen 20 of its 24 delegates for Ron Paul, even though Mitt Romney had won a narrow victory in the popular vote. 

Mike Wallace, Maine convention delegate and Platform committee member, said, “The Maine delegation was elected by the largest convention in our state’s history. There were a number of issues that were brought up, to contest the results,” Wallace said.

Maine Governor Paul LePage followed through on his declaration not to attend his party’s national convention if the results of the state convention were not honored. In an August 24 statement, LePage said, “I made it clear, when the challenge was issued, that I felt the Maine delegates selected at the Maine Convention should be seated in Tampa. It is unfortunate that not all of these delegates will be seated.”

“The RNC Credentials committee gave the contestants a number of tries to challenge our credentials,” said Wallace, “when in the past, challenges were dismissed if they couldn’t be proved on the first challenge.  In the end, the burden of proof was put on the Maine delegation to show that there had not been problems.”

At the Maine convention May 5, the huge number of people wanting to attend overwhelmed the process that the Maine GOP had set up to credential delegates. Maine delegate John Atkinson said there was some evidence that the Paul campaign encouraged its supporters to show up at the convention, “[W]hether they were delegates or not because if seats were not filled at the convention they could be appointed as delegates on the day of the convention. It created a line a quarter-mile long. There was chaos at the credentials table, so people started getting in without being properly credentialed. It overwhelmed everything.”

Some votes, including that for convention chair, occurred before the credentials committee had confirmed the number of delegates eligible to vote.

Reports from the state convention indicated that uncredentialed individuals were allowed on the floor during voting, among other rules violations. Since convention chair Brent Tweed had aggressively used his authority to advance his agenda of apponting Paul delegates, and the margin that elected him Chairman was only a handful of votes, the RNC stepped in. 

Eventually, the RNC crafted a compromise in which half of Maine’s 20 elected delegates went to Mitt Romney and half to Ron Paul. Because the superdelegates went to Romney, the state was not available to put Paul’s name into nomination. Five states were needed, and only Minnesota and Iowa went to Paul.

Hayes Gahagan, chairman of the Aroostook County Republican Committee, whose county went for Paul, laid the blame entirely at the feet of the Maine GOP. “This is not the RNC’s fault. It’s the Maine Republican Party’s responsibility.”

A Bangor Daily News editorial that Atkinson said captured the issue very well, said,

The Maine Republican Party should learn from mistakes at this year’s state convention. Whether you’re conservative, libertarian or moderate, you benefit from having your party follow the rules when electing delegates.

The Maine delegates who didn’t walk out also self-identified as libertarians who believe in working within the Republican Party.