TAMPA, Fla. — Most of Maine’s delegates walked out of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday afternoon and said they will boycott the rest of the event after failing to overturn a ruling that removed half the state’s delegates pledged to support Ron Paul.
The group tried to appeal an RNC committee recommendation to split the state’s 20 delegates evenly between backers of Paul and those favoring Mitt Romney. Ten Paul delegates ultimately were removed and replaced by 10 for Romney.
Maine’s delegates wanted the full slate of Paul supporters reinstated.
Delegate Bryan Daugherty was among those who walked out of the Tampa Bay Times Forum along with the bulk of the delegation.
“It’s pretty much all of them. It’s very unfortunate. We’re all very distraught that this happened,” said Daugherty, a state committeeman for Penobscot County.
Mark Willis, replaced by the RNC with a delegate supporting Romney, didn’t have an exact count of how many of the state’s representatives left after the failed appeal, but the walkout included at least 90 percent of the delegates and alternates who backed Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s bid for the nomination, he said.
Maine’s appeal never was heard by the other delegates attending the first full day of convention activities, who would have voted on the question if it had been brought to the floor.
“We couldn’t get it to be heard. We tried to do a point of order, but our chairman wasn’t even recognized,” said Willis, a newly elected state Republican committeeman.
When Maine’s turn came during the roll call vote of delegates from each state, 14 were announced for Romney and 10 for Paul.
Before the roll call vote, Paul showed up on the convention floor, signing autographs and posing for photos.
As he left the arena, he declined to say if he felt his delegates were being treated unfairly.
“I’ll let you know when it’s over,” Paul said.
The flap created hard feelings in Maine and Republican Gov. Paul LePage chose to skip the convention.
Stavros Mendros, who had supported Paul, said many Paul supporters had made travel plans before the challenge, which he described as “vindictive and bogus.”
“I just hope that in the next 3½ months that we can put the Maine Republican Party back together,” said Mendros, who’s now supporting Romney, the GOP nominee.
Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, said any dispute over Maine’s delegates really was resolved long ago.
“It’s pretty much over,” he said before the appeal effort failed.
He also said a walkout wouldn’t accomplish much except deprive Maine of a voice during the convention.
“I don’t think it would do anything. It would be unfortunate because Maine should have representation,” Webster said.
Webster’s position with the state party entitled him to a delegate seat. He said he intended to vote for Romney.
The state’s delegates also extended their feud with the Republican National Committee by printing and handing out a pamphlet warning that if the national party splits and throws out Maine’s delegation, it could happen to any state.
“What if the RNC threw out the duly elected delegates of your state’s election?” the flier says. “What if your state’s delegates were replaced by appointees of a nine-person panel composed of RNC insiders from other states?
“It happened to Maine. It will happen to you next,” it says.
Disgruntled Maine delegates distributed the flier around their hotel and handed it out Tuesday at the convention site.
An RNC committee reported there were a number of problems during Maine’s GOP convention in May, which produced a large contingent of Paul supporters. Because the committee said the convention was flawed, half of the 20 Paul delegates were rejected and replaced.
It was a deal imposed by the party that Maine’s delegation never accepted, Willis said.
“We’re not going to accept this deal the RNC thrust on us,” Willis said. “It should be all of us or none of us.”
The delegation had planned to appeal the committee report on Monday, but the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac forced organizers to simply open the convention Monday and immediately adjourn.
Rejection of the Paul delegates won’t thwart efforts of his supporters or silence them, Willis said.
“We are 10 times stronger than we were an hour ago,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report