Minnesota Republicans will gather in St. Cloud on Friday morning to nominate a GOP challenger for the states U.S. Senate Race, and to put together the final delegate roster for the Republican National Convention in August — a roster that will be dominated by Ron Paul supporters
The top priority for the event will be for the state GOP to pick a candidate to face Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar come November.
But Ron Paul will likely steal the show.
Using his “It’s the delegates, dummy” system to procure national delegates, Paul has amassed a sizable following in Minnesota.
Estimates show Paul has 20 of the 24 delegates to the national convention already selected in Minnesota. Thirteen more will be elected Saturday.
Paul is also scheduled to speak Friday evening, after the Senate candidate endorsement.
PolicyMic will be providing live updates on the convention and the speech.
Live Updates: Sunday, 10 am: Minnesota Recap: From PolicyMic Pundit Allan Stevo:
This is the story of the 2012 primary season, one that continues to be repeated. Under significant media hype, a candidate wins the popular vote in a state, the media leaves town ignoring the importance of follow-through, the winning candidate leaves as well, going wherever he thinks the media might be, all the while an active group of Ron Paul supporters remain committed to winning that state's national delegates.
This is Paul's "It's the Delegates, Dummy" strategy and in many states it's working. While Paul saw delegate victories Saturday in Virginia, Michigan, and Vermont, Paul's biggest delegate victory of the weekend has to be Minnesota.
At the Minnesota Republican Convention held in St. Cloud Minnesota on May 18-19, Paul's supporters swept 12 of the 13 available delegate positions. The thirteenth delegate spot went into a runoff. Observers report that one of those in the runoff was Minnesota Congresswoman and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. The other was a grassroots Paul supporter, Don Huizenga.
The large size of Paul's delegation present at the St. Cloud convention left was little question who would win the runoff. It would not be Michele Bachmann. With Paul supporters already in control of a dominant 32 of the previously selected 39 national delegates, a commanding 82%, the Paul supporter did something surprisingly gracious.
Don Huizenga conceded the contest. While standing before the delegation he announced his concession to Bachmann "out of respect for the work she's done." This allows the congresswoman to travel to Tampa, alongside 32 Ron Paul supporters to vote as a delegate to the Republican National Convention August 27.
State Representative Kurt Bills, who received Ron Paul's difficult to obtain endorsement, became the GOP nominee for the Senate elections in Novemeber. This victory was another success for Paul and his constitutional platform. Bills is poised to face Minnesota's Senior Senator Amy Klobuchar in November. Klobuchar is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
Minnesota Republicans gathered to hold their state convention on May 18-19. Ron Paul attended, speaking to an estimated 2,000 Minnesota Republicans at the convention. Later in the evening, Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson spoke words ofunity and praise:
"So I want to say something to both the Ron Paul lovers in the room and the Ron Paul haters in the room. And there’s a whole bunch of us, I would argue most of us, somewhere in between those groups.
"To the Ron Paul lovers in the room, the ones who are here because of Ron Paul, you know what the chatter is, you know what the talk is, you know there is a lot of anger. Some of the anger is from people who have been sitting in those chairs for 20 years or 30 years doing hard work and are not here this year because you are here instead. So you have got to understand that anger. And you have to appreciate that anger. And the chatter is, fair or not ... they don’t care about the Republican Party, they are going to lose interest in a year, they are going to disappear, they are going to let someone else do the work, and then they aren’t even going to vote for Republicans. And it might not be fair, but a lot of people are saying that. And if that makes you mad, if that perception makes you mad, and I think it should, because it would make me mad, make sure it doesn’t happen, don’t disappear. If we are part of the Republican Party, then we all need to vote for Republicans in November.
"For the Ron Paul haters in the room, and that’s a strong term, but it’s out there. For the folks who just want to purge the party of the Ron Paul people, the folks I hear say, 'Why can’t it just be like it was six or eight years ago?' My advice to you is: get over it.
"There is no such thing as standing still. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. If we don’t grow, we die as a party. When I look at the Ron Paul people and I see their enthusiasm and I see their passion and I see their ridiculous ability to organize and I say, thank God they are here and we should welcome them with our open arms and we should help them succeed."
The convention adjourned with Paul supporters winning 32 of 40 national committee delegates and securing a Senate nomination.
Ron Paul Live in Minnesota:
Saturday 7:15 am: Paul Feels the Love: Minnesota Republicans endorsed a U.S. Senate candidate at their state convention Friday, but saved their biggest reaction for libertarian champion Ron Paul who was received with chants of "President Paul!" by 2,000 Minnesota convention delegates. "There's a lot of friends of liberty in this town," Paul said. Several convention observers said that while Paul was well-received they did not hear once the name of presumptive nominee Mitt Romney during the convention.
Friday 4:30 pm: Ron Paul Crushing Georgia GOP Convention, Too: Georgia Republicans will gather this weekend in Columbus for a state convention where delegates will be nominated to be sent to the Republican National Convention in August. Most of these delegates will be bound to Newt Gingrich, but Texas Congressman Ron Paul supporters may steal the show.
Paul and his supporters have led a sizeable grassroots campaign to fill local and state-level delegate positions with “Paulites” — supporters of the libertarian. These ground-level delegates then influence GOP policies on the state and national level.
Georgia GOP leaders are also expected to send a powerful message to the state General Assembly: Strengthen Georgia's ethics laws.
Former Georgia congressman and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is expected to address the convention on Saturday.
From Ron Paul writer and PolicyMic Pundit Allan Stevo:
Oklahoma and Arizona this past weekend became the most recent examples of GOP insiders teaming up with team Romney to alienate Ron Paul's legion of supporters and preventing a fair and open nomination process. However, in a move that has been almost the opposite of what other state parties have done, former Enron lobbyist and current Republican Party Chairman Pat Shortridge extended an olive branch to Ron Paul supporters.
Referring to the upcoming Minnesota Republican Party convention this weekend, Shortridge stated, "I am pleased to announce that Congressman Ron Paul will be addressing the Republican State Convention in St Cloud on Friday, May 18, sometime in the evening following the conclusion of the U.S. Senate endorsement."
"Having the Congressman speak will highlight our common Republican purpose of restoring limited government and individual liberty by electing Republican candidates who believe in those core party principles. It will also establish the Republican Party as the growing party that is welcoming new people and new ideas and preparing to be a long-term, conservative governing majority."
Shortridge’s announcement earlier this month comes on the heels of a dominant performance by Ron Paul supporters in recent congressional district elections – sweeping 5 of 8 congressional districts and winning 20 national delegates for Ron Paul.
Shortridge's statement of inclusivity draws a stark contrast against the behavior of many other state GOP chairmen across the country. When asked about the running of his state party, a veteran political observer stated about the running of his local party:
"Obfuscation and confusion is how these people run their meetings, and they do it intentionally," Shortridge said. "They try to force through votes that not a single delegate understands. They are terrified that the grassroots of our party threaten the status quo. We threaten their stranglehold on power."
In Minnesota this weekend, if Paul gets a strong turnout from his supporters, he may complete his delegate sweep. Minnesota fits into the Paul campaign's plan for the Republican National Convention: show up with a strong delegate count and present Paul as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. To date, Paul has officially secured 20 of the 40 national delegates from Minnesota, two were won by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and two more who went to uncommitted delegates. Thirteen more delegates will be up for grabs this weekend in St. Cloud Minnesota at the Minnesota Republican Convention scheduled to be held Friday and Saturday.
If Ron Paul supporters show up in full force, Minnesota may be added to the nationwide shows of strength for Ron Paul that have been seen so far this year in states as varied as Nevada, Iowa, Maine, and Washington. In these states, among others, Ron Paul supporters have meticulously worked through the political process by trial and error, repeated many times, until ultimately showing themselves dominant at the highest levels of their state Republican parties.
An interview with Shortridge might shed light on his thinking about the olive branch approach. "I think it's important that contrasts are about ideas ... I'm not so much a fan of personality contrasts and the political back-and-forth contrasts because, honestly, I don't care about it, and I don't think most Minnesotans care about it.''
If Shortridge's words about getting rid of the political back-and-forth shed light on how he runs a party, the Minnesota Republicans are looking at a meeting this weekend that is likely to be a vigorous discussion of ideas, but with little of the threatening and thuggish drama that other state party leaders have pushed on Ron Paul's supporters.
9:15 am RP to Speak: Ron Paul will attend the Minnesota state Republican convention, addressing attendees live and in person as part of his far-reaching delegate-attainment strategy. The 12-term Congressman from Texas will attend the convention in St. Cloud on Friday, May 18th beginning at 6:00 p.m.
7:30 am: A Great Listen. MPR News gives a great overview of the Minn GOP convention. Take a listen:
Thursday 11 pm: Ron Paul Is Influencing State Politics, Too: Using a powerful grassroots campaign, Paul's backers have claimed not just convention delegate slots but also party leadership posts in numerous local organizing units, particularly in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
St. Paul-area Republicans have already started meeting separately from the 4th Congressional District's party apparatus, which they see as newly dominated by Paul backers.
Former Senator Norm Coleman won't be a nominee at the state convention. His bid was rejected by supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, showing just how much pull the Texas libertarian has in the state.
All eight of the delegate slots in the St. Paul House district where Coleman lives went to a "Ron Paul slate." Coleman, who had sought one of the spots, was relegated to fourth-alternate status.
6 pm: Pawlenty Endorses Paul: Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, said this week that he thinks the GOP establishment should welcome Paul supporters with open arms and embrace their energy instead of view it as a negative.
"You have to tip your cap to them. They show up. They're working hard," Pawlenty said of the Paul faction after delivering a policy speech Monday, May 14, at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. "So we want them to be part of the Republican team."
Background: On Feburary 7, Rick Santorum won the Minnesotta caucus, notching 45% of the vote and 37 unbound delegates. Paul came in second with 27% of the vote.
At the state convention, the 2,200 delegates are scheduled to endorse a U.S. Senate candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar; elect 13 additional delegates to the national convention to the 27 already selected; and approve a party platform.
The Paul forces intend to influence all of those decisions and may have the power to do it. Party activists estimate they'll have 35% to 50% of the total convention delegates.
Paul has endorsed Kurt Bills, a state representative and high school teacher, in the Senate campaign against Pete Hegseth and Dan Severson. Bills is seen as the frontrunner for the endorsement, and all three candidates have pledged to not run in the primary without it.
Supporters of the Texas congressman and presidential candidate were vocal last weekend at Arizona and Oklahoma GOP conventions. In a handful of other states, Paul backers won a majority of national convention delegates.