By Allan Stevo
Over the last several weeks, Minnesotans have gathered to choose delegates for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
The nominating convention for the GOP is scheduled to convene on August 27. The process in Minnesota has come to its first leg of completion this weekend as the electors in Federal Congressional Districts 1, 2, 4, and 8 selected national delegates and handled other party business. Of the 24 possible delegates to come out of Minnesota during this process, 20 have pledged support to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Two delegates are pledged to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and two others are of unknown affiliation.
On May 18 and 19, the Minnesota State Republican Party will convene to nominate 13 more delegates. Three party officials will also be sent as so-called “super-delegates” to the Tampa nominating convention, bringing the grand total of delegates who will represent Minnesota Republicans to 40. Analysis shows that Ron Paul has guaranteed himself a minimum of 50% of the delegates out of Minnesota and currently controls 83% of the already selected delegation compared to 8% for Senator Santorum and 0% for current GOP frontrunner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
While the popular vote was won by Santorum on February 7 in a non-binding straw poll, an organized effort was made by Ron Paul’s Minnesota supporters to win the more important delegate selection process. This strategy is similar to the strategy employed by then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s campaign team in 2008 to defeat an opponent with greater name recognition.
In an April 12 poll released by the conservative polling outfit Rasmussen, Paul is seen as leading President Obama in a head-to-head contest, making him the only GOP candidate to beat the incumbent president, while Governor Romney ties President Obama in the same race. This news comes on the heels of a campaign suspension by Santorum and may suggest that conservative Republicans are rallying around Paul in an “anyone-but-Romney” Republican race.