Clark County Establishment Declares War on People Who Don’t Like Romney; Strategy Backfires

Posted: May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

By now, most folks who are active in Clark County politics know what happened at the convention with the ‘Unity Slate’, a moniker that might have been produced by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, or by an Obama administration press secretary for all the forthrightness it conveyed. This post is for the people left back in the precincts who did not participate in the county convention.

The main object of the slate was to help the Romney campaign shut out a very strong Ron Paul contingent by recruiting Santorum and Gingrich delegates to help Romney delegates get elected. It involved getting together beforehand and deciding on the candidates for state delegate that everyone would vote for so that the vote would be concentrated on a few instead of dispersed over many names. If there were people that Santorum and Gingrich could also support, the total votes on the slate would increase, and Romney, having the most candidates on the slate, would cruise to victory at the next level. It was a good strategy, no doubt thought up by some very shrewd Romney campaign staffers in King County (the strategy had been used in other counties before it got to Clark). The execution was tragically flawed, however. Instead of just explaining the strategy and trying to get people on board by open and honest means, it was sold by a series of emails from the head of the local Santorum campaign that demonized Ron Paul and his supporters as deceptive, untrustworthy, always trying to game the system, employing questionable tactics involving motions and delaying so that everyone else would go home, etc. Joining this effort was 17th LD State Senator Don Benton, who used a couple of carefully edited quotes from Paul himself to convey that he was far too friendly to gay marriage to be an acceptable candidate (Romney’s own history on the issue notwithstanding). Benton himself was one of the names on the Unity slate and urged Santorum delegates via email to vote for it and shut out Paul delegates completely.

The several-day effort culminated in a Wednesday Unity Slate meeting, a great summary of which can be found here . The meeting was organized by Ryan Hart, former CCRP chairman and head of the Romney campaign in Clark County, and Senator Benton and others did their best to turn the crowd into rabid Paul-haters. With elected officials and party heads all joining forces in such a concerted effort, it is a wonder that the Paul camp was able to mount any kind of response at all.

But respond they did. With only 48 hours to get all of those same Santorum and Gingrich people into another meeting, they also managed to contact the Santorum national campaign and convince them to join forces. Given Romney’s front-runner status, the strategy to shut Romney delegates out made a lot more sense for the other campaigns, and eventually, late into the night before the convention, they came to an agreement on a proportional slate.  There was still a lot of doubt among individual Santorum supporters that Paul people would follow through and not act as deceptively as the Romney people promised they would, but these doubts were soon allayed as the first ballots elected nearly the entire Santorum contingent, with very few Paul delegates being elected. This show of faithfulness to the agreement, along with the absence of all the ‘questionable tactics’ that the Romney camp had promised,  convinced the Santorum delegates that they had been lied to regarding Paul supporters and their character. Not only did they continue to vote for the ‘Open Convention’ slate and elect many of the remaining Paul delegates, but they also began to realize that this coalition could be carried on well past the presidential election. In fact, many began to wonder why there hadn’t been a joining of these two forces before, given the similarities in conservative stances on so many issues. The two factions that had come together in the early days of the Tea Party had reunited and found that their combined forces were very strong. The final delegate tallies had Paul and Santorum as the winners by a very wide margin over Romney. The margin would have been even wider, had the 17th LD been allowed to finish voting (More on this in another post). The leaders of both groups began meeting regularly and continuing in building the goodwill that was created at the convention.

  1. […] perhaps the most ironic manifestation of karma in Clark County politics since the Unity Slate was hoisted on its own petard , Columbian political beat writer Stephanie Rice made yet another attempt to cast aspersion on […]

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