Ron Paul Can Save the Libertarian Movement in the Texas Primary
Ron Paul suspended his national campaign earlier this month, but he has never given up on his gritty, down-in-the-dirt delegate strategy. In his suspension speech, he reminded his supporters that, “Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process. We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future.”
So far, the faithful have heeded the call. For example, just a few days ago, Paul delegates were able to score political victories deep inside the Nevada machine, triggering some resignations from party leaders there.
The next test for Ron Paul’s delegate strategy is in Texas, where Republican voters will be able to turn out for one of their congressional representatives. Texas is friendly territory for Ron Paul, and it may re-energize his long-term strategy.
In his home district (the 14th district of Texas which is a coastal district that touches the outskirts of Houston on the west) Ron Paul has an established network of supporters who are already familiar with his policies and who are excited about his philosophy. In most of his congressional elections, more than 100,000 people voted for Paul, indicating the attraction of Texans to his campaign strategy.
By contrast, Romney has largely started to focus on Barack Obama and this may affect the support he receives from proud Texans. He has hardly campaigned in Texas and has not held any major rallies, facts that have led some Republican leadership to question his understanding of the state. State party chairman Steve Munisteri recently said, “I think he [Romney] takes Texas for granted.”
Texas’ primary is open, which means that Democrats can vote, and unlike in Michigan, when Democrats voted for Santorum to weaken Romney, they may vote for Ron Paul out of a genuine attraction to his position on war, civil rights, and drugs.
Unfortunately, the other elements of the primary aren’t so favorable to Paul. Because it’s a true primary and not a caucus, the Texas election won’t give many opportunities to Paul supporters to tilt support toward their candidate by exploiting their understanding of a baffling procedural rulebook (as in Iowa or Idaho).
On top of that, a vast majority of the contested delegates are bound, meaning that they are legally required (for 3 vote rounds I believe) to vote in line with the percentage of votes received by each candidate in the May 29 voting.
The worst of it is that Romney needs about 70% of the vote to get enough delegates to end with the 1,144 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination. Thus, Ron Paul needs more than 30% of the vote to block total victory by the Romney campaign, and precedent is not kind to this effort. In 2008, he received only 5% of the vote.
This time is different though. Ron Paul is the only alternative to the frontrunner, but in 2008, he was one of four credible competitors to McCain in the state. And by the way, he did better than Romney in Texas in 2008.
If Paul managed to get enough delegates in Texas to prevent Romney from winning the nomination, he would generate a huge amount of momentum for his now suspended campaign as well as infusing his mission – to bring libertarianism to mainstream politics – with new power.