Campaign: Paul backers among delegates elected

Four of six national Republican delegates chosen at Saturday’s failed state convention in Reno are supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul, the Paul campaign said Wednesday.

“The Ron Paul campaign is confident that the Nevada state Republican Party will ensure that the votes cast by all of the delegates at the April 26 (convention) will be respected,” the campaign stated in a news release.

The convention was recessed before Nevada’s delegation to the Republican National Convention could be elected. But votes were cast for nine of the 31 elected delegates in hastily improvised elections Saturday afternoon.

Those nine delegates are assigned to Nevada’s three congressional districts, three per district. At Saturday’s convention, the room was split into three separate gatherings and residents of each district scribbled names of their favored delegates on handmade ballots, with party officials marking convention-goers’ badges to note that they voted.

With observers present from Paul’s campaign and that of presumptive nominee John McCain, ballots were counted for District 1 and District 3 and about half the ballots were tallied for District 2, which includes rural and Northern Nevada, before the convention was recessed by its chairman, state Sen. Bob Beers, who said there wasn’t time to finish holding delegate elections.

According to Paul’s campaign, the national delegates who received the most votes from District 1 were Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., Danny Tarkanian, a former Republican candidate for state office, and Chris Dyer, a Paul supporter.

In District 3, the delegates picked were Arden Osborne, Carl Bunce and Elizabeth BelCastro, all Paul supporters, according to the campaign.

The ballots for District 2 were sealed and locked in a safe at Reno’s Peppermill Hotel Casino when the convention went into recess. According to the Paul campaign, the ballots that were counted showed Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in the lead, followed by several Paul supporters.

“We just want to get this information out there so everybody can move forward with all the facts,” Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton said of releasing the names. “We’re hopeful and confident the Nevada GOP will make sure all these votes stand.”

State Republican officials, working with the campaigns and the Republican National Committee, are discussing how to resume the convention and finish electing delegates. Whether the votes cast in the elections for the first nine delegates will be accepted or thrown out is not known.

“No official decision has been made,” party Executive Director Zac Moyle said Wednesday, declining to comment further on the situation. He said he could not confirm the Paul campaign’s claims about who had the most votes in the initial elections.

Officials are concerned that the congressional district delegate elections were marred by irregularities, including convention-goers voting in the wrong congressional district or in more than one election.

The party hopes to announce later this week a date and venue for the convention to resume.

Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball or 702-387-2919.

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