GOP primary? Or continued party fracturesPublished on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 12:12 am | Last updated on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 12:12 am
The weekend Republican convention in Augusta was truly, as discussed and debated in tweets, blogs and around water coolers, a “pass the popcorn” event.
Ron Paul’s supporters organized, in advance, a convention coup to claim Maine’s delegates from the RNC-designated presumptive Republican presidential candidate.
You could call it a revolution or a fiasco, depending on your point of view, but no one could ever call it boring. Nor could it have been called respectful.
The entertainment continued Monday as state Republicans reached out to swipe one another and toss around a little guilt and a lot of blame, cementing GOP fractures.
It’s not like Mitt Romney supporters didn’t know about the coup. They had clear advance notice.
Several days before the convention, GOP Chairman Charlie Webster sent an email to convention delegates and alternates noting that he was aware of the potential Ron Paul “take over,” having heard about it “several weeks ago” at a meeting at GOP headquarters.
Nevertheless, Webster magnanimously noted that “in my role as party chairman, my obligation is to welcome every Republican activist to our convention, and to guarantee that all voices are heard.”
That’s where the magnanimity ended.
And all voices were not heard.
His message to delegates and alternates expressed his regret for “the necessity of writing this message, but unfortunately there are those among us who would choose to divide us rather than unite us.”
Isn’t Webster the chief GOP divider?
In his call to the convention, Webster repeatedly referred to Paul supporters as “them,” as in “not us.”
He referred to “their own personal political opinions,” as in not the opinion of “us” mainstream Republicans.
It was practically an invitation for upheaval.
And upheaval it was.
From the start, Paul’s supporters took energetic charge of the convention, electing their own convention chairman and naming 21 of Maine’s available 24 delegates from among their ranks, and electing themselves to seat a majority of the state Republican Committee.
So, not only did the Paul supporters take over the convention, they took over the state committee.
A total coup.
And a not-so-subtle reminder that Mainers pride themselves on their involvement in politics, in having a say in our republic.
Having a say is one thing, though, and shouting into the din is quite another.
The convention was more about Republicans quarreling with each other, a mighty battle of Romney vs. Paul, than about a unified GOP effort to defeat Obama in November.
So, if we really want to talk about who won at Maine’s Republican State Convention, it was Obama. And he didn’t even have to make a speech.
As entertaining as the weekend convention was, if state GOP officers and delegates really can’t get along well enough to focus on the end goal, maybe it’s time for Maine to return to embrace a Massachusetts-style town-by-town primary vote.
It wouldn’t be as lively, but there would be fewer ugly, party-fracturing recriminations.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.