Washington State GOP Skirts Rules to Sabotage Santorum

In Washington state, precinct caucuses elect precinct delegates to attend county Republican conventions across the state. Each of these county conventions is divided into districts, usually based on legislative district representation at the state house. Thus, a county convention might involve numerous districts meeting at the same time within that convention building. Each of these districts elects STATE delegates from the much larger number of precinct delegates gathered to attend the Republican state convention. At this state convention, approximately 1500 of these state delegates then select 40 delegates to attend the national convention in Tampa. Those delegates at the national convention join with other delegates from across the county to choose the next Republican nominee for President.

We all know that 1144 is the magic number of delegates to choose the nominee. We all know that Mitt Romney maintains a strong lead in reaching that number. However, even with all this lead, Romney is only about half-way to the necessary number- 1144.

What many don’t understand is that the media exaggerates its estimates of likely Romney delegates from caucus states. Because Romney won the non-binding WA statewide caucuses by a wide margin on March 3, the media estimates the national delegate split from WA as follows: Romney 30, Santorum 5, Paul 5. However, the county conventions show a different scenario taking place.

In Pierce, King, Snohomish, Mason, Whitman, and Clark counties, Santorum and Paul delegates have been working together to elect primarily Santorum and Paul delegates to the state convention. In some districts, this is resulting in Romney being shut out from attaining ANY state delegates. Clark Legislative District (LD) 17, Clark LD 18, and Pierce LD 25 are three examples where Romney won ZERO delegates at the county convention. Keep in mind that in all three of those districts, Romney entered the county conventions with a plurality of precinct delegates! Yet, the delegates going to the state convention from those districts almost entirely support either Santorum or Paul.

Of course, Romney surrogates intended to use a similar strategy to deny Santorum and Paul state delegates. These surrogates and WA Republican Party insiders devised dozens of “Unity” slates stocked with a majority of Romney state delegate candidates and NO Paul delegates.

While slates of recommended delegates are permissible and quite common in these situations, the establishment forces went a step further by printing up hundreds of copies of slates claiming to be endorsed by the Santorum campaign. In Pierce County, Alex Hayes, executive director of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington (a decidedly left-of-center political group), worked with Jane Milhans to distribute hundreds of “Unity Slates” purporting to be endorsed by the campaign.

As it turns out, the Santorum campaign had already dispatched a staffer to the convention to encourage Santorum delegates to reject this slate. Grass-roots leaders and delegates limited Romney to just 5% of delegates in the district lobbied by Alex Hayes.
This unity slate debacle just scratches the surface of WA county conventions irregularities. Consider the following examples from this past weekend:

1. Snohomish County LD 39: The chair refused to allow the representative from the Santorum campaign to address delegates prior to voting. Instead, he selected a person claiming to be a Santorum supporter who actually advocated for the Romney friendly “Unity” slate. When delegates motioned to allow the Santorum staffer to speak, the chair ruled the motion out of order.

2. Snohomish County LD 39: The chair refused to allow a Santorum staffer to meet with delegates in between the four rounds of voting. Many campaigns at caucuses take this opportunity between votes to talk with their delegates about the process and strategy. In fact, the sergeant at arms in this district threatened to send two police officers to escort the staffer off premises.

3. Snohomish County LD 1: A Unity slate advocate proposed cutting the balloting process short by dividing the delegates into groups based on candidate preference. Each group would then choose a certain number of delegates to the state convention based on their candidate’s proportion of the March 3 vote in LD 1. Such an action would have been an extreme violation of the rules. When approached by a Santorum parliamentarian challenging this proposal, the chair stated the proposal would not be acted upon. What was troubling was that reason the chair gave for its failure. He stated that the illegal proposal did not have enough support. In a society governed by the rule of law, the proposal should have been rejected on its face because it violated the rules.

4. Snohomish County LD 44: The chair denied motion to allow a Santorum representative time to speak. The chair also denied a challenge to this ruling. According to the rules, the motion was entitled to a vote by the delegates. A Unity slate advocate physically assaulted the Santorum representative who was patiently awaiting an opportunity to speak, shoving him out of the room. A police officer standing just feet away did nothing to properly address the situation, choosing to deny the Santorum staffer access to the room by blocking the entry to the doorway following this assault.

5. Clark County LD 17: As Romney delegates and Unity slate supporters began to realize the Santorum/Paul coalition threatened to shut Romney out of delegates, they decided to run out the clock on the balloting process. The time allotted for the process expired, leaving approximately 17 delegate spots to the state convention empty.

What a shame that in the United States of America, the establishment of ANY political party would tolerate, and in some cases engage in, such uncivil behavior.

  2 comments for “Washington State GOP Skirts Rules to Sabotage Santorum

  1. Matt
    April 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I was IN the LD39 session when the Santorum leaders showed up. We were literally passing out ballots and the Sant delegates all stood up and left the room…right as the ballots were being passed out. The Sant. campaign got their message across, which was “bail on the previously agreed-upon unity slate, we’re going with Paul.”

    The Santorum Campaign’s inability to get organized on tactics BEFORE the county convention cost them a lot of delegates in Snohomish county. If the Santorum-Paul alliance had been organized and communicated the week before the convention, like it should have been, maybe it would have turned out differently. As LD39 voted, from my vantage point was, 1/2 of the Santorum supporters seemed to stay with the Unity slate, 1/2 of them went with the new Paul alliance. It shows that Santorum’s campaign in WA is disorganized, not that back room deals kept Santorum supporters out.

    Unfortunately, the worst of the back room deals is actually that the Santorum campaign agreed to the Unity slate, yet reneged at the eleventh hour.

  2. Kurt Rand
    April 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Matt,
    You simply have your facts mistaken. I was in the room as well. A motion was made– TWICE– to allow a Santorum representative to speak on behalf of the campaign. Rather than allow the motion to be voted on, the chair declared the motion out of order. This happened despite the fact voting had NOT yet begun.

    In addition, several minutes prior to these motions, the chair asked if there were those who could speak prior to voting on behalf of their respective candidates. Although the Santorum representative volunteered to speak, the chair ignored his effort to be recognized. Instead, the chair chose someone who supported the Romney Unity slate.

    This misinformation, Matt, does not reflect highly on the Unity slate backers within LD 39. We should be able to disagree without violating the rules or spreading misinformation.

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