Minnesota’s delegation to the Republican National Convention will not back Mitt Romney when the party gathers in Tampa next week. Instead, 32 of the state’s 40 nominating votes will be cast for Ron Paul during the roll call of states, according to —chair of the delegation.
Stebbins was elected by Minnesota’s contingent of 77 total delegates, 37 of which are alternates, as chair earlier this year. While conceding Romney would capture the GOP endorsement for U.S. President, Stebbins said her state’s delegates are “overwhelmingly Ron Paul supporters” and made clear they would vote accordingly.
“I don’t think Mitt Romney is a strong candidate,” she said. “He represents old ideas and what the party has stood for over the last couple of decades, which is not necessarily what the voters want.”
, a Dundas resident who is an for the RNC, says her support is strongly behind Paul.
"I think it’s a great time right now for Ron Paul’s message to come out," she told Patch. "We know he’s always has followers and his message has been out there. This campaign season we just have some amazing leadership with Marianne Stebbins and we have some amazing followers who are making sure our personal liberties aren’t infringed on.”
Wells, who on Wednesday was driving through Georgia with her husband Aramis on their way to the convention, told Patch she agrees with Paul's push for limited government. Wells said people can make better choices than the federal government for cities, schools and businesses.
"We know what's going on in our community," she said. "They're thousands of miles away."
Each alternate delegate is paired with a delegate, who will cast a vote at the Republican National Convention. Alternates stand in for delegates when the delegates have other obligations at the convention, need a break and, if they aren’t able to make the trip, the alternate fills in for them, which means they cast a vote behind their candidate of choice.
While there remain rank and file Republicans who are “still sore” following Paul’s strong showing in Minnesota’s caucus back in February, Stebbins says she has been feeling more acceptance of late and believes many in the party recognize Paul’s level of support.
“They understand that we mean the party is growing, and that there are growing pains when an organization is growing,” she said. “But we’ve brought in so many people—disaffected Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and people who had been sitting on the couch and not interested in politics. We are growing the party, and it’s not always easy when there is a conflict of ideas.”
Wells, who echoed those sentiments, said she doesn’t believe the Republican base is listening to the change that is happening, and that they’re fearful of change.
"I don’t think they’re listening to the average person who owns a small business. I don’t think they’re listening to the people who are seeing their taxes increased. I think they hear their own message for their own agenda," she said.
, the Republican challenger for Minnesota House District 46B, echoed those sentiments and said Paul supporters like him aren’t trying to destroy the Republican Party; they’re trying to save it. Arvidson is contemplating writing in Paul’s name come election time.
“It’s a curious thing, and it’s politics at work,” he said. “It’s a grassroots movement trying to have an effect at the national level. To me, the two parties have become either big government or big business, and we just think it should be big people.”
Stebbins also stressed Paul supporters are “not abandoning the party” and many are volunteering for a variety of Republican candidates seeking state and federal office this fall.
Supporting the 'message'
Minnesota is not the only state in the Union sending a healthy helping of Paul delegates to next week’s Republican National Convention. A large percentage of delegations from Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Maine also back Paul. A deal was reportedly struck Tuesday afternoon between Paul supporters and the Republican National Committee that would seat more Paul delegates and allow Paul’s son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, to speak during primetime in exchange for Paul supporters not holding up the nomination process.
For her part, Stebbins has supported Ron Paul since he first declared his candidacy for president back in 2007.
“At one point the campaign asked me to coordinate Minnesota, in late 2007, and so I did that,” she said. “We had decent success for that year and elected six national delegates. Of course the 2008 state convention was pretty infamous for the party kind of squashing the Ron Paul movement.”
When the Texas congressman again announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in 2011, Stebbins was among the first to join his campaign.
“In the fall of 2011 they asked me to chair the Minnesota campaign,” she said. “We went ahead and did what needed to be done. This movement is just getting started. You’ve got people here in Minnesota who are just now running for city council. So those people aren’t on the radar yet. Some of those will win and some won’t, but that’s where it starts. Those are the acorns, the shoots, that will spread out.”
Romney is scheduled to visit Minnesota this week for a . Stebbins said she would not be attending either event.
“I’ve put a lot of effort into the Republican Party, but I’ve always been fairly liberty minded," she said. "So when Ron Paul ran it was a natural fit for me. Practical liberal and Libertarian are fairly similar. Modern liberals came out of the progressive movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s. There is obviously quite a distinction now, however modern day liberals have a lot of good things about them.”
And though Wells knows that Paul's chances are slim to receive the endorsement next week, she will continue to support his message.
“We are just not here to support Ron Paul. We are here to support his beliefs, even after this campaign season is over.”