Supporters of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul had a good weekend. Their candidate continues to accumulate delegates at state conventions around the country and, on Saturday, the Paulistas claimed almost total control of the Alaska Republican Party.
Former U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and his wife, Kathleen, were key to the Paul crowd’s efforts to capture control of the state party. Kathleen Miller, sporting a Ron Paul sticker, wound up winning a spot as one of Alaska’s three Republican electors.
“They tried every maneuver they could, but God prevailed,” new party chair and Paul backer Russ Millette told the crowd.
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At the convention, the pro-Paul convention crowd was so boisterous, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski — a supporter of presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney — couldn’t give her planned speech on Friday. A YouTube video shows her guest, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, struggling to make himself heard over boos and shouts of “Ron Paul! Ron Paul!” Murkowski was invited back Saturday and gave her speech then. Ruedrich said the Paul camp apologized.
Ruedrich said he wanted to give up the chairman’s spot two years ago, but survived a challenge and stuck with it through redistricting. For his replacement, Ruedrich backed Bruce Schulte, who organized the convention. But when the Paul factor became clear, Schulte gave up his spot and threw his support behind another contender, Judy Eledge, president of the Anchorage Republican women’s club.
That wasn’t enough. Ruedrich said as far as he knows, never have so many Republican delegates — some 480 — turned out for a state party convention. Every legislative district was represented, which he also believes is a first. The Paul supporters tried to engineer the convention to claim delegates for the national convention but couldn’t out maneuver the old guard led by Ruedrich. An email sent out Thursday by someone who said he was with the Paul camp urged like-minded Republicans to do whatever it took to win.
“This is a numbers game. If more of Dr. Paul’s supporters turn out than other candidate’s delegates, we control them,” said the email, signed by someone who identified himself as Mike Cook. “If more of our people show up, we take over the state convention, we change the rules, and we take over the Republican Party. Turnout is key.”