TACOMA, Wash. – The Washington State Republican Party’s state convention kicked off its official proceedings Friday, a daylong agenda including a slate of candidate speeches, a whole lot of parliamentary micro-maneuvering, and the building promise of a tense fight between two GOP presidential contenders over delegates to the nominating convention at the end of August in Tampa.
At stake at the Republican meeting are 40 of Washington State’s 43 delegates to the Republican National Convention, each with a vote to nominate former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney—the presumptive GOP presidential nominee—or someone else. In Washington State, the only “someone else” still organizing a challenge Romney is Paul.
The atmosphere in the cavernous upstairs Greater Tacoma Convention Center exhibition hall was decidedly not a unicorn rodeo, but neither did Friday’s Session break into the sort of all-out hysterics some worried might harm the Romney campaign’s ultimate aim at this point in the race, the drive to present an image that Republicans are unifying in their support for his candidacy.
Though Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) officially put his presidential campaign in neutral last month—announcing he would remain in the race but forgo campaigning in the remaining primaries—his followers in Washington State have continued to push on.
In breakout congressional district caucuses late Friday afternoon, each of Washington State’s 10 U.S. House districts elected their three delegates to the national convention. The fight is real in Washington State where delegates are not awarded winner take-all but by direct election at this week’s state convention.
For a zombie campaign, Paul did well but perhaps not as well as his supporters had hoped and worked for.
Romney was successful in a first ballot sweep of district caucus-elected delegates in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 9th Congressional Districts. Paul hit similarly hit a home run on the first pitch, his entire slate winning in the 3rd and 7th Congressional Districts.
Voting in the 2nd and 10th Congressional Districts went to a second ballot, but Romney ultimately won all 6 delegates from those districts.
The final tally from Friday’s election of 30 delegates—24 Romney, 5 Paul, and one Santorum delegate who was voted through with a Paul slate.
At least numerically, the results of Friday’s voting show Paul only holding the line from his 24 percent showing in the March 3 Washington State Republican Caucuses, a beauty contest in which no actual delegates were awarded but one that Romney won with 38 percent of a historic 50,000-plus Republican turnout.
The election of 10 at-large delegates will take place Saturday among all state convention delegates and seated alternates, a contest that will be the last chance for Paul supporters to take center stage in to show support for their candidate.