Business Insider/Grace Wyler
CHAMPAIGN, ILL. — After disappointing performances in this month’s Republican nominating contests, Ron Paul has once again faded from the national spotlight, overshadowed by a three-way war between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Texas Congressman has no plans to end his quixotic presidential bid. Although Paul has so far failed to win the popular vote in a single state, his campaign insists that the candidate is still poised to capture a substantial number of delegates for the Republican National Convention.
“We are happy with where we are,” campaign director Jesse Benton told Business Insider. “We think we are well positioned, our strategy is working out well so far.”
The campaign has now moved into a new phase of its delegate plan, Benton said, as state parties start holding conventions that will elect delegates to the RNC. These conventions are a crucial test for Paul, who has staked his candidacy on his campaign’s ability to win “unbound” delegates elected by state parties. The campaign says it has been able to advance Paul delegates in district and county conventions, but those claims won’t mean anything until the state parties decide whether, and how many, of those delegates will go to Tampa in August.
The campaign has identified several states, including Iowa, Nevada, and Minnesota, where the field organisation is strong enough to win a majority of delegates, Benton said.
The strategy is already causing an uproar in Iowa, where Paul delegate-hopefuls have mounted miniature insurgencies in at least two counties. In Nevada, Paul supporters staged a coup within the Clarke County GOP, and are now poised to take at least half of the state’s delegates.
According to Benton, Paul also has a decent chance to pick up delegates at the state conventions in Maine, Washington, Alaska, and, to a lesser extent, Colorado. But North Dakota, where Paul devoted extensive resources only to lose to Santorum, “will be a bellwether to see whether we are poised to take the delegation to Tampa.”
If Paul’s delegates are successful, he will have pulled off what amounts to a hostile takeover of several state party apparatuses. Although Benton concedes that it is unlikely to be enough to win the nomination, the delegates could give Paul major leverage at the national convention. On the other hand, if Paul’s delegates fail to make it through the state contests, the iconoclastic candidate will have a hard time justifying a continued presence in the race.
Regardless of the outcome, however, Paul’s state and local party insurgencies have politicized a new class of Republicans that are not going to go away after November.
“We are taking over the party,” Wisconsin delegate-hopeful Kristan Harris told Business Insider at a Ron Paul rally in Illinois yesterday. “In my county, they hijacked the party four years ago and have been in control ever since.”
“I’m second generation,” he added proudly.
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