Posted: Aug 1, 2012 5:12 PM by AP
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A dispute over Louisiana's delegates to this month's Republican National Convention has shifted to the national GOP level.
State Republican Party leaders lining up behind presumed nominee Mitt Romney and supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul couldn't reach an agreement over delegates by the deadline to submit them to the Republican National Committee.
Dueling conventions in Shreveport by the two sides elected separate delegate slates in June, and two separate, 46-member lists were sent to the RNC.
The state GOP, led by Chairman Roger Villere, submitted a delegate list last week that filled slots won by Paul supporters with Romney backers. The RNC considers that the official list of Louisiana delegates for the Tampa, Fla., convention set for Aug. 27-30.
"We have a very conservative and enthusiastic delegation," Villere said in a statement. "The Louisiana delegation is composed of Republican leaders, supporters and activists who are committed to uniting the party and defeating Barack Obama in November."
Gov. Bobby Jindal, considered a potential Romney running mate, supports the state party's list of delegates.
Paul supporters who say they followed the proper nominating rules are left to challenge the decision with the RNC. Charlie Davis, who was state chairman of the Ron Paul campaign, said Wednesday he's filed paperwork with national party officials to contest the decision.
"A final decision won't be made until the week before convention," RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said when asked about the timeline for making a determination.
Similar arguments have broken out in other states.
The RNC would likely have little interest in supporting a delegation packed with Paul supporters for a convention designed to nominate Romney. Paul, a well-known libertarian, has stopped campaigning.
Romney backers across multiple states have said they worry that Paul supporters who attend the Republicans' national gathering will protest, detract from Romney's message and harm party unification efforts.
Woody Jenkins, chairman of the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish, sent a letter this week to the RNC that accused the state party of acting improperly in picking delegates to the national convention.
"I have become deeply concerned that our state party's leadership, composed of some of my best friends and political allies, has become caught up in the efforts to 'block Ron Paul' and are making decisions adversely affecting the rights of the Republican voters here in East Baton Rouge Parish," Jenkins wrote.
Jenkins endorsed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum for the GOP nomination but said he now supports Romney.
Davis, a former executive director of the Louisiana Republican Party, said alienating Paul supporters doesn't help the party and could harm Romney's campaign.
After the competing June state conventions, state Republican Party leaders left 13 delegate positions unfilled, saying they would work to reach a compromise with the Paul supporters.
The party's announcement of its delegate list said no compromise could be reached because Paul supporters wanted a majority of delegates, even though Paul has suspended his presidential campaign.
However, Davis said state party officials refused to meet or discuss a compromise. The Paul faction claims Villere violated party rules governing the selection of delegates.
"It's disheartening and infuriating to watch such blatant fraud be perpetuated by an organization that I've worked so closely with for so many years," Davis wrote in an e-mail.
A nine-member executive committee of the state party enacted rules in the days before the Shreveport convention that changed the selection of the state convention chairman, made it more difficult to remove him and lowered the threshold for the quorum needed to choose delegates.