This past week Nevada held its state Republican convention. As is likely to be the case in many other states, Ron Paul supporters were disproportionately represented among the delegates, making up close to half the convention membership rather than the 14% which he received in the state caucuses. With a strong grassroots organization, Paul supporters have dominated or taken over many district conventions nationwide, excluded delegates for other candidates, and sent large contingents to state conventions. Nevada is only the first in what may be a series of attempts to take over state conventions leading up to a similar takeover of the national Republican convention in August.
At the Nevada convention the response of the convention chairman, with the support of the state party organization, was to shut down the convention altogether as soon as it became clear that there would be an attempt at a coup by renegade delegates. They apparently plan to reconvene the convention and have the credentials committee disqualify Paul delegates to achieve the result they want.
Clearly it's not a good thing for party nominating conventions to end up with disproportionately large numbers of delegates who support a candidate who did not do all that well at the polls. Even worse when those delegates manage to take over the convention. The result is the effective disenfranchisement of the majority of primary voters who chose not to vote for that candidate and might end up with no representation at their state convention. That essentially amounts to a coup.
It's equally bad for this to lead to situations like the one we saw in Nevada where party officials have to step in with a heavy hand and institute repressive measures to counter a potential takeover by a vocal minority. That totally negates the primary and caucus process and likely disenfranchises not just the troublesome minority but many others as well. It leaves party insiders to basically pick the candidate and write the platform with no input from the people.
Nevada was one of the states most vulnerable to this sort of takeover, because the popular vote was heavily dominated by Mitt Romney and despite his subsequent endorsement of McCain, that left a vacuum which enthusiastic Paul supporters at various district conventions could leap in and fill. A similar situation may exist in many other states where McCain came in second or won a narrow victory, including Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, Michigan, Alaska, Utah, Maine, Massachusetts, and Wyoming. Other states may also be vulnerable where Paul supporters are particularly well organized. I know that here in Texas where Paul didn't do particularly well in the primary vote they will be represented quite well at the state convention. As many as a third of the total states might run into serious challenges at the state conventions, despite a popular vote which should dictate a clear McCain victory nationwide.