NORMAN — Backers of GOP presidential contender Ron Paul came up short Saturday in their attempt to elect their slate of delegates to the national convention during a raucous state convention —
Backers of Paul, a Texas congressman, booed Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a onetime 2012 GOP presidential contender, when both encouraged the approximately 1,400 delegates to support the presumed
Fallin endorsed Romney last week when the former Massachusetts governor visited Oklahoma; about 750 attended a private fundraiser in Oklahoma City and contributed about $2 million to his campaign, organizers said.
Paul supporters, who numbered about 600 and made up about 40 percent of the convention, used various parliamentary procedures to contest rules.
They complained the state party violated its own rules by failing to have a roll-call vote on the slate of national delegates and voted against adjourning the convention.
“Follow the rules!” they chanted.
Many of them met outside the Embassy Suites Hotel after the convention.
Earlier, a Paul supporter complained he had been hit in the back of the head by a Romney backer; Paul supporters got upset when convention officials tried to remove the Paul backer.
Order was restored quickly when a sheriff's deputy arrived.
The convention was slogged down mostly by difficulties in determining the credentials of the
When delegates cast their votes, 256 more voted than were listed as approved delegates.
The mess wasn't cleared up until about 3 p.m.; a lunch featuring Pawlenty had to be canceled, with delegates told they would be refunded their money and then given 30 minutes to go out to lunch on their own.
The slate of 25 delegates and 25 alternates selected at the Oklahoma Republican State Convention were elected by voice vote.
The Paul supporters submitted their own slate of delegates and alternates, but they failed to get enough votes to amend convention rules to let delegates vote on both slates.
Instead, the convention delegates selected a slate of delegates and alternates to the national convention that was put together by the party's executive committee from about 200 applicants, state Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell said.
“I'll go to bat for this slate 365 days a year,” he told delegates.
Who the delegates will represent will be determined later, he said.
“We're still in the midst of a primary,” he said. “There are still elections to go.”
Pinnell said he's confident Oklahoma Republicans will unite and work together to defeat President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in November. The president failed to win any of Oklahoma's 77 counties in 2008.
“You'd be hard pressed to find a group of individuals who are more dedicated to making Barack Obama a one-term president than Ron Paul supporters,” Pinnell said.
Romney, who finished second in Oklahoma's March 6 presidential preferential primary, is assured 13 delegates based on those results, he said.
Romney won 28 percent of the GOP votes.
The other two candidates winning delegates based on the GOP vote have since suspended their campaigns but have not officially released their delegates.
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum won the state's primary, garnering 34 percent of the vote and winning 14 delegates.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich finished third, winning 27 percent; he is to get 13
Oklahoma will send a contingent of 43 delegates to the Republican National convention in August in Tampa Bay, Fla.
In addition to the 25 delegates selected Saturday, 15 others were elected in congressional elections — three from each of Oklahoma's five congressional districts.
The other three delegates are Pinnell and the state's national committeeman and national
Lukus Collins, a Paul volunteer, said Paul supporters won nine of the 15 congressional district national delegate slots. It appears three are committed to Romney but the other six could vote for Paul.
Paul could have seven delegates in Oklahoma's contingent; one of the 25 delegates selected Saturday is a Paul backer, Collins said.
Santorum and Gingrich each have endorsed Romney and it's expected they will encourage their delegates to vote for Romney; how delegates to former presidential candidates vote at national conventions differ according to state rules.
Delegates elected a new national committeeman.
Steve Fair, of Duncan, won 52 percent of the delegate votes while Richard Engel, who lives between Mustang and Tuttle, and had the support of the Paul backers, won 48 percent.
Fair was endorsed by state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, who served as state GOP chairman before Pinnell; state Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-
Engel was endorsed by Randy Brogdon, a former GOP state senator and gubernatorial candidate who lost to Fallin in 2010; former House Speaker Lance Cargill; Insurance Commissioner John Doak; and Charlie Meadows, chairman of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.
No one opposed
She was elected by
Delegates approved a party platform amendment that allows the state Republican Party, effective this month, to withhold campaign funding to any GOP candidate who accepts a contribution from the Oklahoma Public Employees Association and/or the Oklahoma Education Association.
The amendment was proposed by state Labor Commissioner Mark