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.
PolicyMic Will be providing live updates on the proceedings:
LIVE UPDATES: Saturday Ron Paul Feels the Love Up North: In a seperate GOP convention, 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.
12:15 pm Newt For Mitt: At Georgia's GOP convention this weekend, Newt Gingrich will begin boosting support for Mitt Romney, the same man the former House speaker vehemently campaigned against just months ago.
While Romney won't share the stage with Gingrich this time around, the two are scheduled to campaign together later this month in Las Vegas, a Romney campaign aide confirmed.
"I believe that Mitt Romney will be a dramatically better president than Barack Obama," Gingrich said on CNN's "State of the Union.' "I believe he has earned the right to represent the Republican Party, and he has earned it the hard way."
10:25 am: Gingrich Vs. Paul: According to the Southerm Polictical Report: Georgia’s State Republican Convention taking place this weekend in Columbus will be the moment when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich not only endorsees presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, but also serves as a surrogate speaker for Romney. Romney is not attending Georgia’s convention, as is the case with most if not all states, and so the Romney campaign is tapping various leaders to speak in his place at conventions around the nation. That is Gingrich’s official role in addressing the full convention on Saturday.
But even Gingrich, who carried Georgia overwhelmingly in its presidential primary and who will receive a warm welcome from most of the delegates, will likely face some rather vocal members of the audience in the form of the Ron Paul supporters who will make up approximately one fourth of the actual delegates present. Others addressing the convention might have a hard time dealing with the Paul contingency, whose devotion to their candidate often is expressed with loud and unanticipated jeers for other political leaders and certainly presidential candidates
7:38 am: Ron Paul "Big Nacho": Ron Paul supporters sat at a table under the sign "Big Nacho," a section in which patriotic memorabilia from Starts and Sripes Forever (from Williamsburg, Va.) was for sale. Items included a star-spangled rubber bone and a white-starred rubber ball advertised as "Toys for the Patriotic Pet." It is unclear what the Big Nacho sign meant. Is it an attempt to multiculturalism?
3:30 pm: Attendance High: Chris Kelleher of the state party said 2,115 delegates are expected here this weekend, and the total attendance likely will be about 3,000
At the national convention, most initially are bound to vote for Gingrich, who won Georgia's March 6 Republican Presidential Primary.
A few will be pledged to presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who got about 26% of Georgia's March 6 vote.
Those who want to go to the national convention submit a resume to a state nominating committee, which interviews prospects and submits a report of 31 delegates and 31 alternates, the latter to replace anyone who can't make the trip. State convention delegates vote on that report.
The delegates selected Saturday at the Civic Center are designated "at large."
State Convention Background: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the state convention is typically the ultimate insiders' ball. Delegates from around the state vote on a variety of policy resolutions, hear speeches from elected officials and elect party leaders.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will make one of his first public appearances Saturday since ending his presidential bid. And, in presidential election years, conventioneers also elect a select group to be delegates to the Republican National Convention, to be held this year in Tampa, Florida, in August.
This year's convention might have a little added tension. Some grassroots activists, including Tea Party supporters, will push for a resolution calling on state lawmakers to strengthen ethics laws, which could include a cap on lobbyist gifts to legislators, something top Republicans in the House and Senate have not supported.
Ron Paul Party Crashing: Ron Paul may be the biggest GOP star this weekend. The Texas libertarian is giving a keynote speech at the Minnesota Republican Convention, where he is expected to sweep the delegates.
Using his “It’s the delegates, dummy” system to procure national delegates, Paul has amassed a sizable following in states like Minnesota.
Paul is also scheduled to speak Friday evening in the Minnesota Republican Convention.