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Oklahoma Republicans elect delegates to national convention

Fights over rules, problems with seating delegates and a physical altercation slowed the process Saturday during the daylong Oklahoma Republican State Convention in Norman.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: May 13, 2012

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 — hindered by fights over rules and a physical altercation between opposing delegates.

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 Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

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.

Delegate credentials

The convention was slogged down mostly by difficulties in determining the credentials of the delegates.

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.

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