This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Delegates who support presidential contender Ron Paul were rebuffed Saturday when they tried to participate in the GOP’s 2nd Congressional District Convention at Kirkwood High School. The action was the most dramatic event to emerge as Republicans across Missouri held conventions in the state’s nine congressional districts to elect three national convention delegates each and three alternates. Paul's forces won all three delegates in the 5th Congressional District in Kansas City and one in the 8th district in Southeast Missouri.
After being ignored or ruled out of order whenever one of their members used parliamentary rules to raise questions about the fairness of the Kirkwood meeting, the pro-Paul delegates eventually left the room, held their own convention in a hallway and vowed to challenge the outcome of Saturday's proceedings.
Their challenge will be taken to the state convention in Branson. If that fails, Paul's supporters say they will take the issue to the Republican National Convention. They said the challenge would point to violations of party rules and would seek to have the three delegates selected at their hallway meeting approved as the district's delegates.
Chosen as delegates at the official meeting were Rich Magee, a lawyer and mayor of Glendale; Charlotte Fink, a health care administrator; and Mike Dudley, a business executive.
At the beginning of Saturday’s meeting, pro-Paul delegate Phillip G. Gonzalez rose to challenge the proceedings and the right of Magee to chair the meeting. Gonzalez was immediately ruled out of order, and he later said convention rules required district delegates to elect the chair.
“They wanted to exclude us,” Gonzales said.
Also criticizing the proceedings were Brent Stafford, who chaired the St. Charles County caucus; and Debbie Hopper, national field director for Paul.
“They violated their own rules,” Hopper said. “They shut us out. It was a sad day for the Republican Party. We are going to challenge what happened here.”
Magee criticized the pro-Paul faction, saying, “They came with the sole purpose of disrupting the meeting. We are a winner-take-all state. That means delegates are supposed to support the (winning) candidate (John McCain) in Missouri. They do not subscribe to that.”
Rather than discuss Saturday's proceedings, Fink chose instead to talk about the joy of being a national convention delegate for the first time. She said she could live with the idea of supporting McCain, even though "he's not as conservative as I'd like. But he's in support of letting the troops finish the job" in Iraq.
The war in Iraq is one major area of disagreement between McCain and Paul delegates. The latter do not think U.S. troops should be in Iraq.
U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country, didn’t seem anxious to enter the fray. After the official vote, he said, “If I were one of Ron Paul’s people, I’d probably be frustrated too.” He says whatever the pro-Paul faction does “won’t change anything.”
He added that he wasn’t surprised by the fuss because of the diversity of political views in the district.
Tina Hervey, speaking for the Missouri Republican Party, took issue with claims that Magee broke party rules.
“Today was a great day for the Missouri Republican Party,” she said. “Everything went smoothly. All delegates have been selected, and the process worked. All the rules were followed and Mr. Magee did not illegally chair the meeting.”
Hervey apparently is "suffering from Dorothy in Oz syndrome," Hopper said. "Apparently she thinks if she repeats 'all the rules were followed' enough times while clicking her heels together, it will make it so."