Unrest over ND GOP national convention delegatesBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Supporters of Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Rick Santorum protested the North Dakota GOP's process for choosing national convention delegates on Saturday, with a former state party chairman calling it a "railroad job."
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Supporters of Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Rick Santorum protested the North Dakota GOP's process for choosing national convention delegates on Saturday, with a former state party chairman calling it a "railroad job."
The two candidates' backers claimed a suggested slate of 25 national convention delegates was stacked with fans of Mitt Romney, who finished behind Paul and Santorum during North Dakota's March 6 presidential preference caucuses.
The group's names were printed on a ballot that was distributed to North Dakota Republican convention delegates Saturday. It included seven state legislators, first lady Betsy Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D.
During a convention floor session Saturday, Paul and Santorum backers lined up to nominate additional candidates for North Dakota's national Republican convention delegation.
However, their appeals for a second printed ballot to list the additional delegates in alphabetical order were rebuffed. There were slightly more than 100 names.
Instead, the North Dakota GOP chairman, Stan Stein, ordered the names displayed on two giant screens at the front of the convention hall. Some delegates complained the names were difficult to read, and the display changed periodically because there were too many names to list on the screens at once.
Stein's decision was backed by a show of hands from a majority of the state convention delegates, who numbered almost 1,700 on Saturday.
Gary Emineth, a Santorum backer and a former North Dakota Republican state party chairman, said the process was unfair. He believed so even though he was part of the group of 25 suggested delegates, Emineth said.
"This is a railroad job, and you've been making it about Ron Paul, and it's not," Emineth told Stein in a brief speech from the convention floor. "What's wrong with putting all (of the suggested delegates) ... on the ballot, and letting all of the delegates vote for their (national convention) delegate of choice? That is all we're asking."
Palmer Reising, of Williston, who described himself as a Ron Paul supporter, said the process was unfair to "the people who want to be delegates, who have never had a chance to be a delegate."
"I don't want to live in the Soviet Union, where we get things done quickly that are unfair," Reising continued, a remark that drew hoots, boos and some applause from delegates.
Late Saturday, Jim Poolman, the state GOP vice chairman, announced that the original slate of 25 North Dakota delegates to the Republican National Convention had been elected. The convention is being held in Tampa, Fla., in August.
The slate was put forward by a North Dakota GOP party committee, said Sandy Boehler, of Fargo, who is a North Dakota representative on the Republican National Committee.
Potential delegates were evaluated in part according to how much party work they have done and how much money they have contributed to GOP candidates, Boehler said. Statewide elected officials and legislators also have an advantage.
Ryan VanderWel, 24, of Williston, said the selection criteria put young party activists at a disadvantage.
"Is that fair to my generation, who does not have years and years and years in the Republican Party? I don't have lots of funds to give," VanderWel said in a speech from the convention floor. "This battle of ideas isn't going away any time soon, and we need to be a part of this."