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 mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 13, 2012
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“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.

Unreleased delegates

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 delegates.

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 committeewoman.

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.

National committee

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-Moore; state Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Duncan; and state national committee woman Carolyn McLarty, of Woodward County.

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 McLarty for the national committeewoman post.

She was elected by acclamation.

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 Costello.

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