EDITORIALS

Blame Maine GOP, not national committee, for delegate chaos

Posted Aug. 27, 2012, at 2:30 p.m.
A Maine sign is pictured at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
A Maine sign is pictured at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

A national Republican committee decided to reject Maine’s delegates to this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., but it is not the entity toward which Republicans should direct their anger. The responsibility lies with Maine’s GOP party leadership.

The RNC’s credentialing committee on Friday rejected Maine delegates supporting Texas Rep. Ron Paul — who is a long shot compared with Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — because of substantial problems at the Maine Republican Convention in May. It instead offered a compromise to seat 10 Paul supporters and 10 Romney supporters.

Romney backers can’t be blamed for originally challenging the validity of procedures at the state convention, and Paul activists and libertarians are understandably upset about not being seated. But neither side should place blame on the RNC Committee on Contests.

“On Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 9:51 a.m., Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster called the state convention to order … This is the last point that there was order in the state convention,” the committee’s report reads. Its analysis states: “The convention was riddled with serious credentialing, ballot and floor security issues” that affected the election of delegates.

Maine Republican Party leaders did not cause the disorder at the convention, but they could have been better prepared for it. This is a fact even Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster acknowledges, to his credit.

“We did a terrible job of running the convention, and I’m willing to take the blame. There were a lot of mistakes made,” he said. He suggested improvements, such as cutting off registration days before the convention to ensure time to get through the credentialing process.

Paul supporters have said the national committee was spurred by politics, not facts, when it decided not to seat all the Paul delegates. Their wariness may be understandable, but it’s hard to refute the evidence that the convention’s rules of order were broken. By not following procedure, the election of delegates lost its integrity.

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.

When your party doesn’t follow the rules, it’s the party that is responsible. The national GOP committee may have made the decision about not seating Paul supporters, but it was only reacting to what happened in Maine.

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