Ron Paul forces have won a showdown over sending a slate of Iowa delegates to the Republican National Convention who overwhelmingly support Paul rather than likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
About 1500 delegates at the state convention in Des Moines narrowly split on the issue, with the Ron Paul coalition garnering about 100 votes more than another coalition that had hoped to send a different, “unity slate” of Iowans to Tampa.
“This is a process and we’re at the end of the process,” said Jeff Jorgenson, chairman of Pottawattamie County Republican Party who was elected an alternate delegate to the National Convention. “We don’t need to begin the process again.”
Those on the losing side, like Polk County Republican Party co-chairman Dave Funk, questioned whether the group of Paul backers who will be representing Iowa Republicans at the national convention are Republicans.
“The nominee from Polk County is someone that not only myself but none of the members of my executive committee that I have asked can tell me who that person is,” Funk said, “and to nominate someone who has not been active in local county politics is inappropriate.”
Marlys Popma, a long-time GOP activist, said many the Ron Paul supporters who’re going to the national convention don’t have a history of voting in Iowa elections.
“I’m sorry. This is a responsibility. Voting is a privilege and a responsibility,” Popma said. “How am I going to send these people to Tampa to vote for us if they don’t even vote for themselves and their children at home?”
Patrick McQueery, a state convention delegate from Black Hawk County, responded.
“Regarding the voting record of the individuals on the slate, I’d like to submit to you that perhaps they didn’t vote because they didn’t see anyone fit to vote for on those elections,” he said, drawing applause and a few boos.
Earlier on Saturday Senator Chuck Grassley and other Iowa Republicans who hold elected office urged the party to unify behind Romney. Throughout the day-long convention tempers occasionally flared and the convention’s parliamentarian at one point declared: “This is not going well.”
Iowa Democrats also held their state convention today and a late afternoon news release from the Iowa Democratic Party ridiculed Republicans for spending the day “fighting amongst themselves.”
“Today our professionalism, unity and strength has been on full display,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky. ”…We are committed to keeping our party leaders focused on the issues that matter most to Iowans.”