CARSON CITY — Nevada Republican dissidents, led by Reno dentist Wayne Terhune, charged Monday that state party leaders will break a state law if they appoint delegates to the National Republican Convention.
Terhune, a supporter of presidential candidate Ron Paul, and 27 other Republicans filed a lawsuit Friday in Reno District Court. It asserts that Chairwoman Sue Lowden and other state party leaders will violate a law if they proceed with a proposal to have the party’s executive committee name delegates during a special meeting on Friday.
“They have people at the top who will appoint delegates,” Terhune said Monday. “That is not the democratic way, and what they are doing is illegal.”
He also said it is another example of why the Republican Party in Nevada is in “terrible shape,” with Democrats having a 60,068 advantage in registered voters as of last week. Two years ago Republicans had a 7,000-voter lead in registrations.
Zachary Moyle, the state Republican executive director, said Monday that no decision has been made on how national delegates will be selected. The party’s executive committee will meet and attempt to resolve the delegate issue.
Reno lawyer Mark Goodman, who represents Terhune, said in the lawsuit that a state law specifies that national delegates “shall” be selected at the state party convention.
Goodman said District Judge Jerry Polaha has been assigned the case, but a hearing date has not been set. He seeks a temporary restraining order to block the party from appointing delegates at Friday’s meeting.
In a news release last week, Lowden said not enough delegates sent back responses for a quorum to be present at a new state convention.
Nearly 1,350 Republican delegates attended an April 26 state convention in Reno. That convention was recessed abruptly after supporters of Paul enacted rule change on how the national delegates would be chosen.
About 675 delegates would be required for a quorum to be present at a new convention. Moyle said last week that only 525 delegates have said they will attend a new convention.
In lieu of a new convention, Lowden said many delegates requested that the party’s 12-member executive committee appoint delegates. She did not confirm that the committee would appoint the delegates, saying only that the committee would resolve the issue Friday.
While party leaders might not have a quorum at a new convention, Terhune contended, 327 Republicans attended a legitimate state party convention on June 28.
The party establishment considers that a rogue convention.
National delegates were selected at that convention.
“We taped the voting, and we can prove what we did was legal,” Terhune said.
He charged that the April convention was recessed illegally, and as the result, the June convention was the legitimate state party convention.
Delegates named in June included supporters of John McCain, Mitt Romney and Paul. They should be seated at the national convention, Terhune said.
In all, Nevada Republicans can name 34 delegates to the national convention, which will take place Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul, Minn.
Party rules reserve three seats for Lowden, National Committeeman Joe Brown and National Committeewoman Beverly Willard.
In the Jan. 19 presidential caucus, Romney won 51 percent of Nevada’s popular vote.
But Terhune contends that vote was a non-binding “beauty contest” and said that Romney will not necessarily receive 51 percent of the delegates. He said the national delegates named at the state convention can vote for the candidates of their choice.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.