John McCain may think he has united the party, but party activists aren’t ready to “calm down” yet.
After seeing his slate of convention delegates in Arizona rejected and alienating North Carolina GOP activists over the anti-Jeremiah Wright ad he condemned without actually watching, the McCain camp has now suffered an embarrassing episode in Nevada.
Via the Las Vegas Review Journal comes the news that the state GOP convention was suspended last night after McCain supporters failed to quell a revolt by Ron Paul’s people:
The state Republican convention was called off Saturday evening without electing national delegates, prompting protests from a record crowd that included many supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul.
State Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, the convention chairman, announced that the convention would recess indefinitely about 6 p.m., saying the party’s contract with the Peppermill Hotel Casino had expired and the gathering would reconvene at a later date.
“We simply had hours and hours of work left to do,” he said in an interview afterward.
It was the sudden and frustrating culmination of a long day that had pitted the party establishment that supports presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., against the insurgent Paul supporters.
Up to that point, the convention had appeared to be proceeding slowly but smoothly after a rules change powered by Paul supporters required a lengthier process than was originally planned for voting on delegates to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., in September. “They hijacked the party away from the people,” Paul supporter Chloie Leavitt, a 44-year-old Overton resident, said as she left. “We were winning and they shut it down.”
Paul supporters appeared to be a large share of the 1,347 state convention delegates. After Beers left the building, some attendees initially refused to leave and tried to restart the convention, but they failed to reach a quorum.
“Unfortunately, with the rule changes implemented this morning, we did not have time to complete the process,” Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden said in a statement. “Our contract for the meeting space had expired, as had our budget, and ballots were unable to be physically produced by the nominations committee. We had to temporarily recess the convention.” She said the party would ask to use the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, which was provided free to the Clark County Democratic Party by UNLV for use in their do-over convention earlier this month after they botched their convention on Feb. 23.
Paul’s supporters succeeded in overturning party rules that would have allowed only pre-approved delegate slates to be elected to the national convention. They argued anyone present ought to be able to run for national delegate. Their move to change the rules succeeded by a wide margin. Once that change was made, Paul campaigners were prepared for an intensive conventioneering effort, passing out their own suggested delegate slates for their people to vote on in hastily assembled delegate elections.
The McCain campaign hadn’t prepared for this contingency, having assumed the pre-approved delegate slates would be pushed through, a source with the campaign said.
The Reno Gazette Journal captures the tension:
Throughout the confusion, hecklers battled for the attention of delegates who supported U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
“McCain supporters leave!” one man shouted.
“McCain supporters stay!” a woman answered.
“We’re supposed to be on the same team!” another woman shouted.
We’re going to be witnessing a lot of those shouting matches from now ’til fall.
See an Arizona’s take on the chaos at Seeing Red AZ.