AUGUSTA, Maine, May 6 (UPI) -- Ron Paul supporters apparently engineered a win for their candidate at the Maine Republican Party convention Sunday, officials said.
The Bangor Daily News reported the weekend convention in Augusta turned chaotic as the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman's backers wrested control of the proceedings Saturday, overcoming floor challenges and recounts to secure 18 of the state's 24 delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.
Whether the results stand remains to be seen, some Republican officials said.
"The national GOP is going to throw out what happened here. I think every rule in the book has [been] broken here," Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner, said.
While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to win the party's nomination, Paul is doggedly staying in the race and his supporters are intent on his doing well enough in the primary process to earn a spot at the convention podium. The Daily News said Paul supporters said a majority win in Maine would give him the six states he needs to speak at the national convention.
Paul backer Matthew McDonald of Belfast said the show of strength by the Paul forces is legitimate.
"Takeover is a strong word; we're all registered Republicans here," McDonald said. "But [state GOP] Chairman [Charlie] Webster called Ron Paul supporters wingnuts, he saw us as a fringe minority; now we hold the power of the convention."
But Charles Cragin, a Romney supporter who had been expected to guide the convention, called the situation "bizarre."
"They have so phenomenally screwed this up that they will go to Tampa and not be seated," Cragin said.
State Attorney General William Schneider, one of six GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate who didn't get a chance to address the full convention, lamented the dissension
"This should be the place to come together," Schneider said. "Every two years we get one chance to get together in one place and hear from candidates and make important decisions and it's been, it's been a mess."