I have written very little about my political activities of late. But after tonight’s activities, I thought I might bring our readers up to speed on what’s been happening in Nebraska.
A Little Background
- Nebraska has a beauty contest/advisory primary. No delegates are chosen as a result of the primary.
- Our State Parties choose national delegates via their state conventions.
- State Convention delegates are chosen by their local county parties *in convention*.
- County Convention delegates are required (by state law) to file for election with their County Election Commissioner no later than March 1. In practice, the party typically sets the number of delegates per precinct so high that there is never an election, and anyone who is filed receives a “certificate of election,” after the primary (which they would theoretically be elected in).
- County conventions in our state take place between June 1 and 10th, so we’re in the midst of it.
Results in our state have been mixed, so far. The Republican Liberty Caucus/Paul/Tea Party forces have had one very large success, on the 2nd day of conventions, in the 3rd largest county in the state. They’ve also picked up delegates, as well as county officers and state central committee members in a few other counties.
There have been a few places where the establishment has reared its ugly head, violated the law, and the Party rules, and done everything in their power to trample all over the “new kids”. One happened in a central Nebraska county (Buffalo) on Monday night; the other happened tonight, in Dodge County. In both instances, the Party appears to have deliberately ignored the law—and probably their by-laws (which of course, can’t be contrary to the governing law of the state). I wasn’t at the Monday night event—a Ron Paul staffer was—so I won’t describe what happened there in any detail, as it would constitute hearsay. I WAS in Dodge County tonight, and I think it entirely possible that Dodge County’s convention will end up as YouTube video in the not-too-distant future. Here’s a brief write-up by one of the delegates on The Daily Paul.
What I Saw
I’ve been working with the folks in Dodge County for a month or so, helping them figure out an appropriate strategy to maximize their results at the convention. We knew they had the majority of the filed delegates (unlike in Buffalo County, where the numbers were a little closer). We knew that there was often a move to seat unfiled delegates (those who didn’t do the paperwork in February), in counties in Nebraska. My general instructions in the smaller counties that I worked with was this: know your numbers, and know how many people the other side has. If you still have the advantage, seat additional delegates, as a sign of goodwill. If you’ll lose the advantage by seating, well, politics isn’t bean ball.
Tonight, when I got there, a rather large room was already filling up (no not just with the 13 filed delegates). They had food at the local country club, along with entertainment (!)—a gal who I would have described as a “nightclub-type singer”, providing background sound. The former County Chair (who is now—I believe, the Vice Chair), who I’ve had some friendly interactions with, came up and talked to me, since I was from “somewhere else.” Then the State Chair, and presumptive state chair of the party—in attendance in their formal capacities, came by to talk with me. It was friendly enough, I guess. Some comments about me being out “organizing”, followed by me asking if that was a bad thing.
Our delegates had planned NOT to seat additional delegates. State statute says that the elected delegates *may* seat additional delegates, but not that they must. No Rules Report was voted on. No Credentials Report was given. The Chair started some of the business (approval of minutes, treasurer’s report) and called by approval by the full body. Our folks tried to object, on the grounds that no one else had been seated as delegates, and they were the properly elected delegates. They were ignored.
Things got progressively worse. Motions that were made and seconded and voted on affirmatively by the seated delegates were ignored. Later, motions were made and seconded, and the chair “rejected” their motions out-of-hand (I didn’t think chairs could do that!?!). [I’ve been told that our appropriate move at this point would have been to “challenge the ruling of the chair”, which would have appropriately required a majority vote of the delegates to uphold—I’m not sure I could have conveyed the appropriate way to vote, though, via text message..] All this time, I was in and out of the room, talking to the Paul campaign experts. (We had organized for the last several months loosely as Paul supporters, and more specifically as anti-establishment liberty-lovers who want to change the Party). The suggestion I got: get our delegates to stop the convention, and take it outside. Hmm.
So, I got one of our delegate’s—a brave soul—attention. I explained what we wanted to do, and suggested to him the way to do it. He went back in, stepped up to the podium, and made a motion stating (paraphrased): “Madam Chair, this convention is being conducted in a manner contrary to Nebraska law, the Nebraska GOP Constitution, and the Dodge County GOP Constitution. I move that we adjourn for 10 minutes, for the purposes of reconstituting duly elected delegates in another location.” The motion was seconded. The Chair said something along the lines of “I don’t accept your motion.” The fellow making the motion, still at the podium, called for a vote of the *elected* delegates, and the “ayes” had it. A few minutes later, I and 7 of the delegates (a quorum, given there were 13) headed outside. Not sure what happened to that 8th delegate…
And, I suspect, in a few days, we’ll be YouTube sensations—for better or worse. After a brief, somewhat hostile exchange with someone who had stepped out for a cigarette, we held our own convention, with me chairing (not what I’d planned when I took off for the evening). We elected a slate of delegates, as well as county officers (and of course, they did the same thing inside). One of the delegates had a camcorder running for the whole time.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen out of all of this. There was an open motion on the floor when the Buffalo County convention adjourned the other night, so it appears likely that they’ll try to resume their convention (by “they”, I mean the Paul/liberty folks). Not sure how that one will work out, but it sounds like the Paul campaign might be sending lawyers in to explore other possibilities.
As for tonight’s rump convention, I don’t know what the results will be in the end. I suspect that, there again, there will be a legal action of some sort.
And THIS is why I’ve been largely absent around here lately .