County GOP sees influx of Paul backers
Some Republicans fear support for presidential hopeful stymies party goals
In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul isn’t considered a front-runner. He’s not really considered a second-, third- or fourth-runner, either.
But the Republican congressman from Texas has a grassroots campaign that is scaring some members of the Whatcom County Republican Party who are seeing an influx of young, college-age Paul supporters coming to meetings to stump for their candidate.
Many Republicans are having a hard time seeing Paul as a Republican candidate, because of his many Libertarian, or what some are referring to as “Constitutionalist,” stances on issues. He also once sought the White House as a Libertarian.
In other years, it might not matter that Paul supporters are coming to meetings, said Chet Dow, Whatcom GOP chairman.
This year Republicans can’t coalesce on a favorite candidate, Dow said, and Paul isn’t even close to the top of the list.
“It’s wide open,” Dow said, which is what could give Paul more local delegates. “There hasn’t been anything like this since 1964.”
That was when a divided Republican Party selected Barry Goldwater to run against incumbent Democrat Lynden Johnson, who smashed Goldwater in the race.
The influx of Paul supporters is being seen by every county GOP group, Dow said, after a recent statewide event he attended.
County GOP Central Committeeman John Robinson is even more concerned about local Paul supporters and Paul’s candidacy.
“In my opinion he’s a Trojan horse,” Robinson said. “He’s a (Republican in name only). That’s how I feel about that, and I’ll be upfront about it and I don’t care.”
During a recent GOP meeting, about 10 Paul supporters — nearly all college-age — stumped for Paul and offered their services as precinct committee members.
“Some weren’t even registered to vote,” Robinson said.
Justin McKay, a former Whatcom County Republican Party member now supporting Paul, said the Paul supporters at the meetings are no different from any other Republican candidate’s supporters stumping for their guy at the meetings. And Paul has many conservative stances, he said.
He also sees a benefit to college-age voters attending the meetings to learn about the process.
“I think it’s a good, healthy thing,” he said.
Robinson said he has no problem with grassroots campaigns, but for him Paul does not represent Republican values. And in many years, he said, not many Republicans come to the local caucuses, which means Paul supporters might be able to take over and send more delegates in favor of Paul to the state convention.
“That should be a red alert to regular Republicans,” Robinson said. “If you don’t want your party taken over, you better get involved."
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