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Paul backers’ claims justified

RENO — Eighteen months later, Nevada Republicans have completed a count of all delegate ballots from last year’s state convention.

A group of disaffected Republicans says it feels vindicated after a Friday night count of missing ballots from the April 2008 gathering showed three delegates for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul should have been sent to the national convention.

Paul supporters said they felt party leaders cheated them out of a place at the national convention when they abruptly recessed the convention before delegate ballots from the state’s 2nd Congressional District could be counted. The district was allowed to choose three of the state’s 34 delegates to the national convention.

The convention in Reno ended after Paul supporters won a rule change that allowed them to vote Paul delegates to the convention.

"It’s good to get it done," said Wayne Terhune, a Paul supporter. "It’s nice to be vindicated. The fact the three Ron Paul people won indicates that might have been the reason they shut down the convention."

Party leaders say the count will have no impact on the state’s role in nominating U.S. Sen. John McCain as the party’s presidential nominee last year. But they said they hope it brings closure to Paul supporters and others who had pressed for the count.

"This should have been done a long time ago," said Nancy Ernaut, state party chairwoman.

About 25 Republicans gathered at the party’s Washoe County headquarters to count ballots that had spent the last 18 months locked in a casino cashier cage at the Peppermill, where the convention was held.

The count showed Paul delegate Robert Terhune won the most votes in the 2nd Congressional District, with 288. Paul supporters Marla Criss and Pat Kerby had 283 votes each.

Controversy over the state convention prompted Paul supporters to later hold an insurgent state convention, where Paul won most of the national convention delegates.

A Nevada GOP committee appointed another delegation, mostly prominent party regulars and contributors.

A key Republican National Committee panel then recommended a compromise list of delegates and said it was troubled by the "ineptness" of the Nevada GOP.

Paul supporters blame then-state GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden for the state convention flap and hope to make it an issue in the U.S. Senate race.

Lowden is one of about a dozen Republicans vying for the seat held by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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