As state Republican leadership rallied around Mitt Romney for president, a battle continued Saturday over Louisiana delegates to the Tampa, Fla., nominating convention later this month.
A panel of the National Republican Committee late Friday rejected a challenge filed by supporters of Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who argued that Louisiana’s state party violated its own bylaws and the RNC rules to “handpick” delegates and alternates.
“It vindicates us,” said state Republican Party executive director Jason Doré.
Dore and state GOP Chairman Roger Villere said Saturday they hoped the decision by the broad-based committee would end the protest.
But Charlie Davis, Louisiana’s Paul campaign director, said the challenge will continue. He asserted the decision by an RNC contest committee was based on “fraudulent” information submitted by state party officials.
“We are going to take the fight to the convention,” Davis said.
The delegate dispute stayed behind the scenes at Saturday’s Republican State Central Committee meeting in Baton Rouge where Romney signs and T-shirts were prominently on display.
The party’s ruling body focused attention on choosing Louisiana’s eight Republican presidential electors, including Scott Wilfong, of Baton Rouge.
Electors, meeting as the Electoral College, cast votes for the presidential candidate based on the Nov. 6 election results in their respective states.
The State Central Committee turned some attention to state races and issues that will be on the Nov. 6 election ballot that is headlined by the presidential race.
Three announced candidates for an open Baton Rouge-area seat on the state Supreme Court sought support — 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judges Duke Welch, Jeff Hughes and Toni Higginbotham. Candidate qualifying opens Wednesday.
Members adopted a resolution urging Republicans to support school board term limit initiatives that will be on the ballot in most parishes.
They also voted to support a proposed constitutional amendment which proponents say will provide greater gun rights protections.
The gun rights amendment drew an enthusiastic and unanimous voice vote of approval by the body. The term limits resolution drew some opposition.
“I don’t think that’s appropriate at that level of public service,” East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Connie Bernard said. She said she has learned much from board veterans.
Committee member Sandra McDade said voters are smart enough to make choices.
Resolution sponsor Michael Bayham, of Chalmette, said limiting elected officials’ terms has worked well in the Legislature, providing “more opportunity for reform and progress.... It flushes the system out and brings in new blood.”
The Republican National Convention delegate dispute stems from actions that occurred at a June 2 state convention in Shreveport called to elect delegates to the Republican Party’s presidential nominating convention. The state convention was dominated by Paul delegates elected in regional caucuses — 111 out of 180 delegates.
The Paul faction alleges that Villere and the party’s executive committee changed the rules at the last minute to orchestrate “a rump convention” that included a minority of convention delegates. The Paul camp is challenging 64 of Louisiana’s 89 delegates and alternates, claiming the results are not valid.
The RNC’s Committee on Contests recommended to the national party that the challenge be dismissed, concluding that there was no violation of rules and regulations.
“It confirms what we have been saying all along. The executive committee had the authority and there was no material change under RNC rules,” Doré said.