I’ve been sent an account that sheds some light on a few different issues at the Republican Convention this past Monday. First, the changing of the delegate election rules to keep Ron Paul sleepers from being delegates to the National Convention. The other was why Greg Zoeller was chosen over Jon Costas. I will post a second post with my thoughts.
This is from a Republican Delegate from South Bend named Eric Rowe:
I was one of around 400 conservative Republicans who had been involved in the Ron Paul campaign who attended this year’s Indiana Republican primary as a delegate (out of a total of 1900+ in attendance). We went intending to make sure that there was a conservative voice there representing the values of limited government and constitutionalism that Ron Paul champions. We called ourselves The Conservative Republican Statesmen Caucus (hereafter, CRSC), a group which we hope will continue to have a role in Indiana politics.
We began planning for this event months in advance, getting active in and working to prove our value to our county parties, recruiting members, organizing ourselves, and carefully studying the rules of the national and Indiana Republican committees.
One of our goals was to make an honest effort to send members of the CRSC as delegates to the Republican National Convention, where we could continue to deepen our influence in the party. The delegate slots we would have been most likely to fill, if any, would have been as congressional district delegates who would attend as delegates bound by the rules to vote for John McCain, and thus would have no potential to cause any trouble to the nomination process. The only way any of our group would have been able to go in that capacity would have been by winning a majority vote in our district caucuses, where we were outnumbered more than 3 to 1. Despite all of this, the leaders of our state GOP took deliberate steps to make sure we did not have a role in our caucuses other than as yes men for them, and they broke their own party rules to do so.
According to rule 15(e)(1) of the Republican National Committee, every state party was required to adopt their procedure for selecting delegates to the Republican National Convention by the 2nd Tuesday of last September (see here: http://www.gop.com/About/Rules11-20.htm ). The rules for the state party of Indiana have been available on their official website, at least since I began to inquire into this whole process months ago. They always said that nominations for delegates to the national convention would be accepted from the floor of our caucuses and that the meetings would follow Robert’s Rules of Order. That is until the day before our state convention, where we found a revised set of rules where the former ones had been. According to the website, the revisions to the rules were made on May 30th, 3 days before our convention, and long after the national party’s required deadline for adopting procedures for delegate selection (see esp. the note stating the day of the revisions and rule 9-31 here: http://www.indgop.org/rulesrevision06.pdf). The revised rules stated that the district committee would preselect a slate of all the delegates and alternate delegates that they want representing their district at the national convention, and that this entire slate would be elected by a simple up or down vote in the district caucus without nominations from the floor.
We were fortunate to have noticed this illegal change of procedure in time to come up with the appropriate way to address it according to Robert’s Rules. In my district, the 2nd, one of the other members of the CRSC stood up to request a point of information immediately after the speaker asked someone to move that we vote on their slate of delegates. He was going to request that the speaker state for all of the delegates in the room what the basis in the rules was for voting for his pre-selected slate of delegates, and when the rule governing that procedure was adopted. Doing this would ensure that all of the delegates in the room were aware that they were trying to follow a rule they had just cooked up last week. After that information would have been given, I was going to make a point of order stating that the national committee rules required that we follow the procedure that was adopted prior to the second Tuesday of last September. Then another CRSC member was going to move that nominations be accepted from the floor, at which point in time we hoped that enough of the delegates present would agree with us that the original rules should be followed that the majority would vote along with us on that motion. Had that happened, there were two CRSC members whom we were planning to nominate. Speaking only for myself, I intended to vote for one of those two individuals, an older gentleman with years of active participation in the party whose politeness is only surpassed by his convictions, and I intended not to vote for the other one. Quite frankly, I have my doubts that either one of them would have won, but I see no reason that they shouldn’t have been given a chance.
As it happened, when the CRSC member stood up for a point of information, even though he did so prior to the motion for a vote on the anointed slate, and even though we all saw and heard him, the speaker flat out ignored him (breaking Robert’s Rules, which our state party rules claim he was obligated to follow) and moved on with the vote. He did this very quickly, reading a pre-written script, calling on a pre-chosen person to make the motion, then a pre-chosen person to second it, and then a vote, at which time the county chairs (including mine), obviously in on this whole scheme, all instructed all of us that we were supposed to stand up and vote yes along with them. Needless to say, the great majority did as they were told, even though many looked confused and at the time of the vote didn’t even know what they were voting on. Immediately after that I rose to make the point of information that the other CRSC member had unsuccessfully attempted. When I did this, my county chair turned around and told me to sit down, which I did not do until I had a chance to ask for my point of information. This was futile. The vote had already been cast, and they were not required to answer the question, since it pertained to a motion already passed. Needless to say, since they were not obligated to answer the question, they didn’t. I only take slight consolation in knowing that by doing that I allowed the other delegates to see that we were being railroaded. Several of the older ladies sitting next to me, although they were not part of the CRSC became disgusted at what they saw. After the meeting another older lady, one who had previously been our county chair for years, approached me to apologize profusely for behavior on the part of our district committee that she said made her ashamed. I am hoping that the CRSC can count some of those people who witnessed that as our friends as we continue to do our part in trying to purge the GOP of dishonesty, hypocrisy, and Marxism.
From what little debriefing I was able to do between then and now, I believe that essentially the same thing happened in all 9 of Indiana’s congressional district caucuses.
Those caucuses occupied Monday morning. In the afternoon was our general session, in which we voted up or down on a pre-written state party platform and for the unopposed nominees for various offices. Since the platform was essentially a list of big government solutions to a series of problems, combined with boasts about previous Republican achievements in increasing the size and scope of government, a large part of the CRSC (though not more than half, from what I could tell) voted against it, and were overwhelmingly defeated.
There was only one contested race in the general session, the race for the Republican nominee for Attorney General. One option, John Costas, was a tall, good looking, youthful, progressive (to use Governor Daniels’ label for him) mayor, who plays guitar in a rock band, who is gifted at answering questions without really answering them, who had proudly brought about one of the state’s toughest laws banning smoking in privately owned establishments, and who used the authority granted by the Kelo v. New London ruling to purchase a shopping center from its owner at less than a previous offer just to sell it to another owner to continue as a shopping center. If you fork out the money to buy a piece of property in the city where he’s mayor, your name may be on the title, but he considers himself its owner. Costas had the overwhelming majority of endorsements from party leaders, who saw him as someone possessing the Clintonesque qualities that they believed would play well in the general election. There’s also a widely held belief that Governor Daniels was grooming Costas to be his replacement.
The other candidate was Greg Zoeller, current deputy AG, a genuine conservative, who opposes smoking bans and disagrees with the Kelo ruling. He’s kind of short, gray haired, and not a fancy speaker. His only major endorsement was from the current AG, based not on any political strategy, but on his estimate that Zoeller, a man whose qualities he knows intimately, would excel at being AG, a job whose demands he knows intimately. Of all the Republican leaders I dealt with at or leading up to the convention, Zoeller was the only one who treated the CRSC respectfully. He attended a meeting we had the week before the convention, with about 200 of us in attendance, at some risk to his reputation, considering what we now know the party thinks of us, gave a speech and answered any questions we had. He wasn’t eloquent or showy. But he was knowledgeable, honest, and respectful. Congruent with the name of our caucus, he’s a statesman, not a politician. I can’t speak for all voters—and I honestly don’t know if maybe the rock star type really does play better in general elections—but when I have a rare chance to vote for someone like Zoeller, I find it refreshing.
As far as I could tell, all of the 400 members of the CRSC voted for Zoeller. Zoeller won 1,061 to 707. So, despite the efforts of the party leadership to make sure we had no impact on anything, we did. Hopefully we will continue to.