Boone County Caucus sends on slate of Paul supporters

Saturday, March 17, 2012 | 6:01 p.m. CDT; updated 6:00 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Columbia resident Lauren Seabaugh waits in line with other voters in front of Kemper Arena on Saturday before the doors opened. Voters for Missouri's Republican Caucus were voting for delegates to represent them on the state and nationwide level.

*The slates of delegates and alternates chosen by Saturday's Boone County caucus vote will be sent to the state convention. An earlier version of this article included incorrect information about whether delegates were being chosen for the state convention.

COLUMBIA — In the first step of a three-level caucus process, Boone County Republicans voted to send a delegation comprised mainly of Ron Paul supporters to the 4th Congressional District Convention in Sedalia on April 21.

A total of 468 people registered as delegates or voters in Saturday’s proceedings, which took place at Kemper Arena in Columbia.


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Organizers handed out several colors of name tags to the unexpectedly large crowd lined up outside after they ran out of the original red badges before the doors opened at 9:30 a.m.

Delegate nominee Eric Albert, the 32nd person in line, said he had been waiting since 8:20 a.m. Delegates were to appear on the ballot in the order that they registered, making an early arrival a beneficial strategy.

“The early bird either gets stepped on or gets the worm,” Albert said.

But not a single ballot was cast Saturday.

When formal procedures began nearly two hours behind schedule, a group of Ron Paul supporters contested the nomination of Bruce Cornett, the chairman of the Boone County Republican Central Committee, as caucus chairman. 

They made a motion to appoint Chris Voisey, a member of the Paul faction, instead. The approval of this motion was marked by a raucous “Aye.”

Committee member Bill Samuels urged his party colleagues to stick together.  “Remember, we are all Republicans. That which unites us is still more important than the things that divide us.”

What united caucus-goers most was neither policy nor creed but rather confusion.

“I’m surprised by the complexity of it,” said Chris Will, 29, of Columbia. “I thought it would be more straightforward.”

The Boone County Republican Central Committee had planned on a proportional voting system. Willing delegates unofficially declared the candidate they would support when they registered, and that choice was to be noted on the ballot. The resulting delegation would consist of delegates in equal proportion to voter support at the caucus.

After a series of debates about recess and then a recess, the rule committee appointed by Voisey recommended a slate voting system. The crowd approved. This pitted candidate-specific lists of 53 delegates against one another rather than allowing voters to pick and choose from a comprehensive ballot.

Rick Santorum’s supporters were given extra time to sign up the legally required 53 delegates. Romney had no slate assembled on his behalf.

Mike Bellman, a Paul supporter, said the absence of a Mitt Romney slate was no surprise. A deal was allegedly brokered between the two camps that ensured a small number of Romney delegates would be sent on to Sedalia should the Paul slate emerge the victor.

The Paul camp played upbeat music with lyrics touting the candidate’s qualifications.

Ultimately there were two slates: one for Santorum and one for the Boone County Conservatives, which included 48 delegates in favor of Paul and five who supported Romney.

Votes were tallied by show of hands. The Boone County Conservative slate won 238-108 to send delegates to the Congressional District Convention on April 21. Their alternates were also chosen 255-88.

In April, three delegates will be selected from each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. The resulting 24 delegates are bound to the candidate they select on their first ballot at the national convention.

*The slates of delegates and alternates chosen by Saturday's vote will also be sent to the state convention June 2.

The party chairman, national committee man and national committee woman are automatically delegates, bringing the total number of delegates Missouri sends to the Republican National Convention to 52.

While some people seemed unhappy with the use of a caucus instead of a primary, Mike McMillen, 51, of Columbia, was not. The last time Missouri relied solely on caucuses was in 1996.

This was McMillen's first time at a caucus, but he said he prefers it to a primary.

“I trust this more than a primary and national elections that use electronic voting machines because machines can be manipulated,” he said. “The people coming to a caucus are usually more educated on the facts and the politicians’ stances.”

Other participants were less thrilled with the day’s proceedings. 

Cheri Reisch, vice-chairwoman of the Boone County Republic Central Committee, described the assumption of leadership by Paul supporters as a “hostile takeover” but said the day’s result is what happens in a democracy.

“The minority must be heard, but the majority must prevail,” Reisch said.

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Bob Brandon March 17, 2012 | 7:00 p.m.

Participatory democracy has different levels of participation, based on the procedure: still, a respectable majority should be based on a higher level of participation than not. From the point of view of elected Republicans and the Boone Co. party leadership, this is not the result they were expecting. Put another way: there are going to be a lot of unhappy Santorum supporters at the end of this process. Will be interesting to see what happens statewide.

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 17, 2012 | 7:58 p.m.

Not to mention the caucus circus in St. Charles Co... Not a good sign when the GOP has to call the law out on their own people.

(Report Comment)
Chris Voisey March 17, 2012 | 8:33 p.m.

This article has many falsehoods presented.

I trust that honest journalists will edit their statements to report honest facts.

According to the Call to Convention, the method in which to select the delegates was to be determined by the Caucus, not the comittee's proposed agenda.

The was a fair and legal vote on how the delegates were to be selected.

(Report Comment)
Mike Bellman March 17, 2012 | 8:35 p.m.

Isn't it nice to see FIVE TIMES the number of participants at the caucus as compoared to 2008?

Wasn't it awesome to see 480 well-behaved adults participate in the political process? (read what happened in other parts of the state where people forgot how to behave like grown-ups). What also help keep things in order was the PARLIAMENTARIAN that the Paul people hired to make sure the rules were followed in every aspect of the word. That bears review.

I don't understand why people are calling this a take over. Paul had the only organized group: comprised mostly of YOUNG people (as a 41 year old, I'm not in that group). The moral to the tale is "If you want to support (Candidate X) get off your arses and go to the caucus.

How about we caucus in the future at the HEARNES CENTER? We'll need the space.

(Report Comment)
Chris Voisey March 17, 2012 | 11:36 p.m.

Both the delegates to the congressional district and state were voted upon.

(Report Comment)
Amy Bremer March 18, 2012 | 9:31 a.m.

This meeting was run per the MOGOP Call to Convention posted on their website and Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised. Multiple nominations for the Chair are allowed and the group with the most supporters wins.

The suggested rule by the Boone County Committee to vote by individuals/proportion is not official unless the body of the caucus votes and approves it. The Rule Committee stated the vote would be by slate and those delegates would go to both the District and State Conventions. The rules were approved by the body of the caucus. The chair also clearly stated we were voting on delegates for the District and State Conventions. The Ron Paul supporters noted clearly at the top of their slate that the delegates were for both the District and State Conventions.

The start time was also clearly stated on the MOGOP website and it was published in the Boone County Southern Journal.

The meeting was run by Robert's Rules of Order to protect the rights of the minority.

In this case the majority was Ron Paul supporters. You win in politics by showing up and that is what happened. Ron Paul supporters have backed their candidate for years because of his faithfulness to the Constitution and belief in self reliance. The Boone County Committee shouldn't have been surprised by the turnout. Many of them attended Dr. Paul's speech at MU on Thursday and saw the size of the crowd. The caucus was announced at that event.

It was obvious that many attendees didn't do their homework to find out what they were getting into at the caucus. Ron Paul supporters are often attacked for being organized. I really don't understand this since organization is a desirable trait in most aspects of society.

(Report Comment)
Steve Spellman March 18, 2012 | 11:42 a.m.

My take was that the Ron Paul organizers simply got their supporters there in much greater proportions than those for Romney or Santorum. Overwhelming numbers.

A Romney person tallied the alligence of each person in line waiting to get in - smart. There was a question in the Paul camp had over 50% straight away or not, so the Paul and Romney leadership made a cordial agreement, hense the "conservative" slate.

Most people there overall (myself included) were caucus novices, so there was confusion about the rules, confusion not being able to hear people speaking. I understand it is normal for the county party chair to start the meeting, and then one to be elected. I was no dangerous situations, but some hard feelings and emotions tied to oyalty to one's candidate. about 500 people to a Republican event in Boone county is noteworthy in and of itself.

Many of the Paul people were certainly not your stereotypical right-wingers. students, young people, some alternatively dressed, and everyday folks. homeschoolers, a few liberals, and those just looking for an honest candidate were amoung the Paul camp, excited to be part of something positive.

I feel for the Santorum and Romney folks that weren't sure the composition of the Conservative slate. Paul folks can debate whether than was necessary in the first place. One thing is Paul leadership entending an olive branch to the Romney leadership in sharing delagates. this is not sinister, but what happens in parlimentary bodies normally.

It was frustrating the pace and not knowing what was supposed to happen. I expected discussion/debate more. If more efficient could have been over in one hour rather than four.

Again, Ron Paul people got the numbers out is the main story. There was a question if they had a majority, so a compomise was made with Romney or about a 90/10 split on the slate of delegates. Boone County is sending some awesome people on to Sedalia.

(Report Comment)
Jim Chappelow March 18, 2012 | 12:09 p.m.

We showed up, knew the rules, followed them, and won. This is exactly how the process is supposed to work. Every registered voter had an equal chance to participate. Those who did not want to bother with a gaining a basic understanding of the process in which they chose to participate have only themselves to blame.

Contrast this with some other counties, where local party bosses railroaded voters, shutdown free speech, and even went so far as to have their opponents jailed. The Boone County Republican Caucus was an exemplar of participatory government. Congratulations to the Boone County Republican Committee and to all who turned out for the caucus.

(Report Comment)
Hannah Cushman March 18, 2012 | 12:15 p.m.

It was not our intention to imply that any circumvention of the rules occurred.

Being unfamiliar with the process ourselves, we were interested in how detail-oriented the Paul folks seemed to be in their strategy. According to the Caucus Introduction included in their yellow folders, they'd planned Voisey's appointment down to the very person to make the nomination.

We found the change in anticipated, albeit unofficial, procedure the most significant part of the day — other than the results, of course. Many people seemed caught off guard by the change, and this seemed to be exacerbated by the number of novices in attendance and the distribution of a page detailing the procedure the Central Committee planned on, which turned out not to be the course the day took.

As such, we tried to explain what happened and highlight voices of those who were happy and unhappy with the outcome. But even Reisch, who did seem a little jarred, acknowledged that it was all an acceptable part of the process. We ended with her quote for that feeling of reconciliation, and we apologize if it fell short of the mark.

Saturday was an impressive display of politics — or, as you said yesterday, Mr. Bellman, "P-A-U-L-itics." We meant not to criticize any camp but rather to relate the actions and reactions we saw during the process.

Hannah Cushman is a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

(Report Comment)
Chris Voisey March 18, 2012 | 11:59 p.m.

Hannah & Jaime,
Thank you both very much for your principled fact checking.
Your actions throughout the reporting of this historic event, which had a record shattering Republican turnout, have proven that there is integrity in local journalism.

I commend both of you wholeheartedly.

The slate was titled “The Boone County Conservative” slate for a reason. Dr. Paul supporters absolutely have claimed the victory, though it was also the Conservative Republicans of Boone County who won.

Despite attempts to limit any reasonable recess allowing the committees to assemble...
The Rick Santorum organization were granted extra time due to a magnanimous decision by the Chair (against the informal protest of some) to legally assemble their slate.

All slates were then put to a physically exhausting fair vote.

If anyone is a disappointed Rick Santorum supporter, I extend condolences.

I acknowledge if one is used to rules being disregarded, when the rules are actually followed it may appear to be confusing.

God bless.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders March 19, 2012 | 5:11 p.m.

My take is that Dr. Ron Paul is the only candidate with real supporters. All of the rest will vote for whoever they are told is "The One."

Which is exactly why Romney didn't bother. Any Santorum delegates will become Romney delegates upon demand (and everybody knows it).

It's pretty hilarious watching this actually, as the entire GOP primary campaign is focused on one thing and one thing only, deny Dr. Paul the nomination.

Of course, in the short-term, it doesn't matter, as even he cannot prevent the financial disaster that is still to come as a result of the last three years (well, really ninety-nine) of Wall St. bailouts. You do not have to be an economist to understand that the problem of too much debt to payoff can never be solved by borrowing more. It can only delay the problem for a little bit longer.

Long-term though, he is the last chance America has to survive as a free land. And the only chance for our children to have a chance to prosper.

(Report Comment)

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