Ron Paul backers pick up delegates.

Detroit— A handful of backers of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul were elected Friday to represent Michigan Republicans at the national party convention, negating a clean sweep for Detroit-born Mitt Romney who won the state’s primary Feb. 28.

Among the 14 sometimes-contentious congressional district elections, Paul supporters picked up at least eight delegate slots to the Tampa convention in August out of 42 at stake, according to one Republican Party source counting the delegates, with sweeps in the Northern Michigan’s 1st District and West Michigan’s 2nd District.

“We came down with a plan and we got it done,” said Joseph Jurecki, a Paul backer who won an election in the 2nd Congressional District at the Michigan Republican Party State Convention.

No official count came yet from the Paul organizers who planned and trained the delegate pick-up strategy in each of the 14 congressional district elections meetings throughout Cobo Center with three delegate slots apiece and three alternates up for grabs.

When the convention was over, Romney walked away with a majority of Michigan’s delegates to the Republican National Convention.

In between votes, Adam de Angeli, Paul’s Michigan coordinator, received word from other meeting room successes, including Paul backers winning in the 1st, 2nd, 6th, 9th, 10th and 12th districts, he said. In the 6th District, which includes Southwest Michigan: “They didn’t realize the slate they elected had a Ron Paul supporter,” de Angeli said. “Oops.”

State party rules kept some Paul supporters out of this weekend’s state convention because of preference shown to precinct delegates elected in 2010, de Angeli said late Friday.

“Overall, I think we did really good,” he said. “If we can win delegates out of Michigan, we can win delegates anywhere,” he said.

Saul Anuzis, Michigan’s Republican National Committeeman who is running for re-election, disputes Paul picked up a delegate in the 6th District believing the total Paul count is six delegates.

“They had an impressive showing, they had a big turnout,” Anuzis said. “They are clearly committed. They are very open about their intention of taking over the party. I suspect they will be very active in the next convention.”

“I think they are probably disappointed,” Anuzis said of the Paul supporters. “They expected bigger numbers and bigger success this weekend. Romney had a very big victory.”

Primary shutout

Paul was shut out of picking up delegates in the Michigan primary because he didn’t meet the 15 percent threshold. Michigan’s delegates were divided 16-14 for Romney and former Sen. Rick Santorum.

In the districts where Santorum won, those delegates head to the convention “uncommitted” since Santorum dropped out. In districts where Romney won, Friday’s winners must sign a pledge they’ll vote for Romney on the first round to honor the Feb. 28 results. However, some Paul supporters, who have found success in other states by wining delegate elections, still hold out hope they can build a big enough delegate count to sway the outcome of the nominating convention in Tampa — or at least influence the party platform to incorporate Paul’s ideas.

“It’s not over,” Jurecki said, noting Romney is not yet the nominee and Paul hasn’t dropped out of the race.

The selection of delegates Friday revealed the tension between different factions of the Republican Party: longtime activists and newcomers, Paul backers versus Romney supporters, tea partiers and the establishment guard. The result was a mixture of delegates, but with Romney heading to the convention with the majority of delegates from his native state. Party leaders quietly expressed satisfaction that Paul backers, who have had a run on other state party conventions, weren’t able to execute the same strategy here despite much organizing.

Controversy in 12th District

Before any votes were cast in the 12th District election, controversy broke out.

Dave Franklin, 23, from Ypsilanti campaigned to win a delegate slot to the national convention on the grounds he’s a strong and active conservative who backs Romney. However, another member of the 12th District circulated an email to convention voters called, “Beware of Dave Franklin,” saying he’s a Paul activist who wants to promote his platform at the convention.

Franklin responded with a robocall to the convention delegates reiterating he’s a principled conservative who wants to work to ensure Romney has a conservative platform to beat President Barack Obama.

Friday night, Franklin ended up winning a slot as an alternate when his competition was disqualified by not filling out the necessary convention paperwork by the deadline.

After his victory, Franklin shot down the email as slander and misrepresentation. Yes, he was a Ron Paul volunteer coordinator, “but the fact of the matter, unlike many Paul supporters, I’ve come to the realization that Mitt Romney is going to have the votes on the first ballot.”

Obama needs to be removed from office, he says. “Since Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee I will fully get behind Mitt Romney, we just need to ensure that he has conservative platform.”

The election of the several Paul backers didn’t sit well with some longtime Republican activists.

Ronald Vaughan, 74, from Taylor said he doesn’t agree with Paul’s stances, especially on foreign policy. He noted they didn’t have the votes early on in voting process to amend the rules in the 12th District elections.

“Them trying to do something, it didn’t necessarily work,” Vaughan said, who caucused in the 12th. “They may eventually get the numbers to work, but so far they haven’t.”

He didn’t prefer Franklin as a delegate because of liberation stances, he said.

“In the beginning he said some pretty hard things against Romney, but he’s come around, but I think our heart speaks the first time around and just because we capitulate later, doesn’t mean our heart’s changed,” Vaughan said.

“I anticipate some problems at the national convention,” he said.

mschultz@detnews.com

(313) 222-2310

The Associated Press contributed.

 

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120519/POLITICS01/205190368#ixzz1vLsjvvJX

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