Remember Ron Paul? Sure you do—skinny little bugger known for his tenacity. Well, turns out most of us underestimated just how tenacious he really is.
With all the candidates who appeared to have a credible shot at the Republican nomination having dropped out, most of us have moved on to the general election, prepping for the inevitable Obama/Romney showdown. But Ron Paul is testing out a novel idea. His idea, as Politico puts it is, “What happens if you don’t drop out?”
For most candidates, probably nothing. For them, not winning state primaries and caucuses would mean not winning over the appointed state delegates who cast their votes at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August and ultimately select the party’s nominee.
But Ron Paul is different. Why? It appears that the massive enthusiasm Paul generated with his Libertarian vision has found a permanent spot in the hearts and minds of supporters, to the point where his supporters number among them state delegates and influential organizers. Thanks to a complex set of rules in the nominating process, this allows him to actually override state primary results and pull more delegates to his side than the popular vote would indicate.
For instance, Mitt Romney won 50% of the vote in Nevada compared to Paul’s 19% in January. But at Nevada’s state convention last weekend that assigns delegates for the national convention in August, the final count of 25 turned out 22 for Paul and just 3 for Romney.
Politico asks, “aren’t they subverting the will of the voters?” and answers,”Paul’s supporters reject the notion that they’re subverting anything, noting they are simply seeing the entire process through. The caucuses and primaries are almost never the last word on who becomes the nominee.”
There is some fine print that dictates state delegates are bound to reflect the popular vote. But apparently there is some even finer print that says they don’t have to.
In large part, Ron Paul’s revolution lies in that fine print. And it’s far from over. Whereas most candidates drop out when the popular vote turns against them, Paul is relying on enthusiasm and organization to make a serious play for delegates. And if they don’t win?
“Romney would have to give something,” Carl Bunce, Paul’s Nevada chairman tells Politico. “Who knows what that could be? It depends on how many delegates we get and how much leverage we have.”
Whether this is a specific policy concession or something else, Paul’s delegate strategy amounts to one thing: Win or lose, he wants to change the party. He wants to edge it closer to his Libertarian vision for the country.
Paul’s camp has been preparing for this since 2008. Their impact on the convention could be substantial. What this also means is that the Republican Convention this year could have an insurgent seriously challenging the party’s establishment default, like when Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter at the Democratic Contention in 1980.
And that, if nothing else, just might make the primary race exciting again.