A prominent Maine Republican from Cumberland County has filed a challenge with the Republican National Committee over the election of all but one of the delegates to the national convention to be held next month in Tampa.
All but one of the delegates elected that weekend was a Ron Paul supporter. Gov. Paul LePage’s election as an uncommitted delegate was not challenged.
The election of the 14 at-large delegates and their alternates as well as the three delegates elected in each of the state’s two Congressional Districts and their alternates have been contested by the man who serves as Mitt Romney’s campaign chairman for Maine.
At-large delegate Matthew McDonald of Belfast, whose election is being challenged, on Saturday provided the Bangor Daily News with a copy of the letter via email. Mark Willis of Dennysville, who was elected a delegate from the 2nd Congressional District called to say he had received a similar letter.
The letter signed by Peter E. Cianchette, who ran unsuccessfully in 2002 for the Republican nomination for governor, and addressed to Demetra Demonte, counsel for the RNC in Washington, D.C., alleged that:
• The failure of the credentialing process at the state convention led to illegal votes being cast and counted.
• There was not a quorum when votes for at-large delegates and alternates were cast.
• Widespread credentialing irregularities and lax floor security led to illegal votes being cast and counted.
• Convention officials repeatedly violated party and parliamentary rules.
A copy of the letter was sent registered mail to all at-large 28 delegates and alternates elected at the state Republican Convention in Augusta held the first weekend in May.
The other at-large delegates whose elections are being contested are: Brent Tweed, Pete Haring, Ashley Ryan, Bryan Daugherty, Mike Wallace, Eric Brakey, Sam Canders, Kevin Pierce, John Jones, Erin Daly, Bernie Johnson, Landon St. Pierre and Alex Titcomb.
Each congressional district selected three delegates whose election is being challenged. In the 1st District the delegates are Linda Bean, Aaron Libby and Ron Morrell. In the 2nd District, Stavros Mendros, James Zell and Willis were chosen.
“Gov. Paul LePage stands behind Maine Republican National Committeeman Rick Bennett’s position that all Maine delegates should be seated at the Republican National Convention,” Brent Littlefield, a senior political adviser to the governor said in a statement issued Saturday afternoon. “The governor also understands that he does not have a formal role in the process of determining delegates to the Tampa convention. Therefore, he has made his position known to Maine’s members of the Republican National Committee: Chairman Charlie Webster, Rick Bennett and Jan Staples.
“In November the governor looks forward to joining a united Republican Party in voting for the candidate who can help restore our economy, Mitt Romney,” the statement concluded.
The state convention devolved into chaos after Ron Paul supporters narrowly elected Brent Tweed to chair the event over the party establishment’s choice, Charles Cragin, according to previously published reports. Cragin, a Romney supporter, predicted in May that the Paul-led delegation might not be seated at the national convention because of violations of rules of procedure at the state convention.
Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster said a few day after the state convention that he expected challenges but that from his perspective, delegates at the state convention were appointed properly.
“Before I turned over the gavel we established a process. We had a checker in each county,” said Webster. “We had those folks involved in the tabulation. In my role as chairman of the party, I’m going to go to the Republican National Convention to make sure those votes are counted.”
Jan Dolcater, Republican chairman in Knox County, who is a member of the party’s credentialing committee, agreed.
“In all fairness to both sides, it could have been a lot more smoothly coordinated and run,” he said. “It was absolutely exhausting handling people on the credentials. Most of them had been registered for less than a week.”
If delegates from Maine are not allowed to participate in the GOP national convention in August, where the Republican Party’s nominee will be officially named, the state loses its voice on a national stage and Paul’s influence on the party would be diminished and all but three of the seats set aside for the Maine delegation would be empty.
The governor and the RNC committeeman and woman from Maine would be seated, according to McDonald.
Willis, a 2nd District delegate, said Saturday that the challenge was unproductive.
“It seems like the GOP spends more time fighting among themselves than it does fighting the Democrats,” he said.