RENO — A group of disaffected Republicans held a renegade state convention Saturday and exposed divisions that threaten to dog the party up to the national party convention and beyond.
Organizers maintained the gathering was a lawful reconvening of the GOP’s recessed April 26 state convention in Reno. The party’s executive committee has set a July 26 date to resume the state convention.
The April convention was abruptly shut down before final votes on what was shaping up as a national convention delegation with more backers for Ron Paul than presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain.
Paul supporters and others voted Saturday to reconvene the state convention after determining the 327 delegates in attendance constituted a quorum.
They sharply criticized state Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, who chaired the earlier convention.
“He had no authority to recess the convention without a vote, and this is a continuation of that convention,” said convention Chairman Mike Weber, a McCain supporter.
Some delegates said they thought 690 delegates were necessary for a quorum, and that Saturday’s convention would be challenged by state party officials.
Organizers had maintained that under party rules the convention could reconvene as long as a majority was present. Nearly 1,400 Republicans were at the party’s April convention.
But they said Saturday that the number of delegates at the April convention was in dispute because they were refused a list of delegates.
They pledged to take their fight to be recognized as the legitimate convention all the way to the Sept. 1-4 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
“They’ll have to support this convention or the other convention,” Weber said. “We have a small hole to go through to make an appeal stick.”
Any appeal would first be considered by the RNC, then by a national convention committee, he said.
Zach Moyle, the state GOP’s executive director, and John Thompson, a spokesman for the RNC, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Saturday.
Results of voting for delegates to the national convention were expected to be released later Saturday.
Wayne Terhune, a Paul supporter and Sparks dentist, paid for the convention room at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.
Even though their candidate has ended his campaign, some Paul backers said they would cast a write-in vote for the Texas congressman in November.
“I think most (Paul supporters) feel like I do, that John McCain is closer to a Democrat than a conservative,” said Robert Terhune, 26, of Reno, the convention organizer’s son. “I certainly wouldn’t support him.”
Marion Vermazen of Reno, a McCain supporter and retired computer executive, said she thinks Paul supporters could affect McCain’s chances in Nevada.
President Bush narrowly carried the swing state in 2000 and 2004.
“It’s pretty clear there’s a large part of the party disaffected in Nevada,” Vermazen said. “You have to wonder if they’ll come out and vote for the establishment candidate in November.”