County GOP sorts through debris of convention

Of 75 delegates elected, Ron Paul leads way with 37

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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County Auditor Greg Kimsey, who served as chairman of the Clark County GOP Convention on Saturday, didn’t get to leave party business behind Monday — a delegate showed up at his office shortly after it opened.

It was a Rick Santorum supporter, wanting to make the case that delays at the convention were the fault of Mitt Romney supporters.

“He was passionate in his beliefs,” said Kimsey, who declined to give the man’s name. “He did state that he was interested in appealing the results of the convention.”

Kimsey directed the man to contact the state GOP, which hears appeals.

Meanwhile, a Romney supporter, Spencer May, said Monday, April 2, he plans to file a challenge to the state GOP over a motion that was made to extend the convention from 6 to 8 p.m.

If successful, it would mean only the delegates elected before 6 p.m. would be eligible to attend the state convention, May 31 to June 2 in Tacoma.

May said the motion should have been allowed to be debated, and he questions whether the people who wanted to extend the convention got the two-thirds majority they needed.

As it stands now, only 75 of 94 delegates were elected Saturday, meaning Clark County won’t be fully represented at the state convention.

Of the 75 delegates elected, Clark County GOP state committeeman Ryan Hart said Monday that 37 are for Ron Paul, 30 are for Santorum, six are for Romney and two are for Newt Gingrich.

The county also gets three delegate spots that will be filled by Hart, chairman Brandon Vick and state committeewoman Nancy DeLeo. All three support Romney, Hart said.

Kimsey, who presided over the motion to extend the convention by two hours, said he was told it was not subject to debate.

At first, he tried a voice vote, but there was no clear winner. Then he told supporters to stand and objectors to sit, but since the

room was standing-room-only that was problematic. He then told objectors to go into the next room (a divider between the rooms was open) and May said objectors tried to make it to the other room but it was too crowded and Kimsey didn’t give them enough time.

“In hindsight, I do wish I had given people more time to move,” Kimsey said Monday, adding that rules chairman Brent Boger and parliamentarian chairman Justin Riley concurred with Kimsey that the motion passed.

Going into the convention, the local GOP had hopes to elect a full slate of delegates, plus 94 alternates as well as vote on delegation leaders and vote on amendments to the party platform. None of the goals were accomplished, and many delegates blamed organizers.

More than 1,000 people attended the convention at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, and registration delayed the start by an hour. Delegates first heard speeches from candidates or their representatives before splitting into legislative districts (the 15th, 17th, 18th, and 49th). Electing delegates, a task organizers hoped would be accomplished with time to debate 37 amendments to the party platform, instead took the rest of the convention.

“I think that the majority of delegates at the convention would agree that the failure to complete voting on time was not the fault of any campaign, but rather were due to the disorganization of the entire event,” wrote Jeff Van Boxtel in an email.

Christian Berrigan, a Santorum supporter, agreed that delays were caused by party management, and that Romney supporters were upset because their Unity Slate, which had intended to block Paul delegates, lost to an Open Convention Slate after Santorum supporters joined Paul supporters.

In an open national convention, the party’s pick to oppose President Barack Obama would be selected rather than confirmed.

Romney hopes to lock down the party nomination with a series of primary wins this month.

No blame to factions

While the local party’s executive director said toward the end of the convention that Paul supporters were to blame for delays, chairman Vick said Monday he does not blame any group of supporters for the delays.

And Brent Boger, the rules chairman, posted on his Facebook page Sunday that delays were caused by “state and national party rules and the local party not being logistically prepared for handling a volume of three times the normal number of participants,” he wrote.

“The contentiousness played a part because people cared, but it was only a minor factor.”

Kimsey said organizers had the best of intentions to make the convention run smoothly but everything from registration to the seating of alternate delegates took much longer than anticipated.

So will Kimsey agree to be chairman for the next convention?

“If I’m asked again, I will, and I’ll do a better job,” he said.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.