TAMPA, Fla. — Maine’s delegation on Monday will appeal a decision by the Republican National Committee to limit the number of Ron Paul supporters allowed into the GOP convention here.
And Paul’s supporters from Maine continued a call for a boycott of the convention and lauded Gov. Paul LePage for his decision to stay home.
In a scathing report, an RNC committee chronicled myriad problems at Maine’s GOP convention in May and recommended splitting the state’s 20 delegates evenly between backers of Paul and supporters of Mitt Romney.
The appeal will ask that Maine’s full slate of delegates be restored, delegate Brent Tweed said Sunday outside a massive rally for Paul held in Tampa.
“We’re not willing to make a deal,” Tweed said. “It’s not right that Maine loses half its delegates for supporting the wrong candidate.”
He had no idea, though, what Monday will hold. Convention officials shortened the schedule under the looming threat of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to boil off Florida’s west coast Monday morning. Officials will open the convention briefly Monday, then adjourn until Tuesday.
Mark Willis, a newly elected state Republican committeeman, said he would boycott the convention completely if the state’s full delegation wasn’t seated, and he intends to urge the rest of the delegates to do the same.
“I won’t attend. I won’t set foot in there and I’ll give a plea for everyone not to attend,” Willis said Sunday, minutes after Ashley Ryan of Maine, a national committeewoman for the RNC, spoke to a raucous crowd during Paul’s “We Are the Future” rally inside the University of South Florida Sun Dome.
Ryan received a standing ovation when she was introduced to the audience, which nearly filled the 10,000-seat auditorium normally used for college basketball games but still fell short of organizers’ expectations for turnout. Vacant seats lined the upper rows, and the large scoreboard in a nearby baseball stadium set up to accommodate an overflow crowd broadcast to empty bleachers.
She praised LePage for following through on his promise not to attend the convention if all of Maine’s delegates weren’t seated.
“I am so proud of our governor. He is still standing tall and refusing to participate in the Republican National Convention,” she said. “Maine is becoming the example of what a liberty state can be.”
During the rally opening, Doug Wead, billed as master of ceremonies, alluded to the fight over allowing Paul delegates into the convention.
“For every one of you there are at least 10, 20, maybe 50 other delegates duly elected who didn’t even get here,” he said.
Outside the rally, which had the lights and staging of a rock concert and the fervor of a spirited revival, a group of disgruntled Maine delegates said they had yet to receive credentials admitting them into the convention and expressed their displeasure at the prospect of not being allowed to vote for their candidate.
“After 20 years of carrying water for the party, this just breaks my heart,” said delegate Andy Stinson, the pastor for the Second Congregational Church in Warren who went from alternate delegate to Tampa visitor after the committee ruling. “I’m mortified. I have an obligation to represent the Republicans of Maine who elected me.”
“I’m disheartened. This is an honor on my part to be part of this convention but I’ve been smacked in the face so often, I don’t know,” said delegate Bryan Daugherty, state committeeman for Penobscot County. “We just want fairness and transparency.”
The delegates said there was no transportation arranged Monday to take them from their hotel miles from the downtown Tampa Bay Times Forum where the convention will take place.
“Instead of kicking us to the curb, they should welcome us,” Tweed said.
“I’m watching my nation fall apart around me,” said delegate Pete Harring, a carpenter who served on LePage’s transition team and founded Maine ReFounders/The Maine Tea Party. “My voice will be heard.”