more at linkMitt Romney’s camp limped out of the Colorado Republican Party Convention in April reeling and dazed. The Romney campaign didn’t know what hit it.
A coordinated ambush by organized, unified Rick Santorum supporters and Ron Paul backers masquerading as uncommitted to any candidate swiped the majority of delegates to the national convention.
Just 16 of the 36 Colorado delegates coming out of the state convention had committed to support Romney, when conventional wisdom held that Romney’s delegates would have a clear path to the majority. He had lost the state’s nonbinding Republican caucus to Santorum in February, but Santorum exited the race the week before the state convention.
Santorum supporter Sean Conway, a longtime GOP activist and current Weld County commissioner, spearheaded the “Unity Slate” of upstart candidates for national delegate positions to have a vote in the nomination of the party’s presidential candidate.
Republicans at the state convention rewarded Conway by electing him chairman of the state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention, which begins this weekend in Tampa, Fla.
The distinction traditionally is reserved for Republican governors and state party chairs, and the coronation of a Santorum acolyte further unnerved shocked Romney supporters, who expected the party’s old guard to waltz all the way to Tampa.
“It was obviously a tense situation, to be quite frank,” Conway admits.
As chairman, Conway has toiled to unify the splintered delegation that he helped create. But he is adamant that holdouts committed to their candidates and not Romney are free to go their own way.
“Those folks who support another candidate who want to vote for that candidate, I think that’s fine,” Conway said. “I think that diversity within our delegation strengthens us, not weakens us. We’ve come together. Does that mean we have unanimity? Not quite.”