John Howell column

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 22, 2012

Panola County Republicans will hear, according to the announcement of the meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Batesville library, a report on the recent state Republican convention.

Doubtful, though, that they will hear a report as colorful as that which came out of the Louisiana Republican Convention in Shreveport June 6, where bones were broken and dislocated and would-be delegates forcibly removed as non-Pauls tried to keep Ron-Pauls from hijacking the event.

In the end, the Ron-Pauls turned their chairs around and faced the opposite direction from the non-Pauls, and two state conventions were held simultaneously.

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If the GOP Primary in March had been the final say in Louisiana, the Ron-Pauls would have been kaput. Primary voters gave Ron Paul only one delegate. Rick Santorum won 10 and Mitt Romney took five. But in a convoluted caucus held statewide a month later, the Ron-Pauls were able to win four of six congressional districts, setting the stage for a raucous state convention.

The Ron-Pauls had previously been successful in hijacking the Nevada state convention, where his supporters found their way into 22 of 25 delegate positions. A national GOP official sent word to Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere, warning him about the Ron-Pauls’ plans to disrupt and hijack the Louisiana convention.

“Whatever you have planned for security, double it,” a Nevada Republican official told Villere.
 By the day of the convention in Shreveport, off-duty police officers and state troopers had been hired to guard against a “militia” that the non-Pauls were rumored to have retained.

Sure enough, what was described in one published account as “menacing-looking men in security garb” arrived, only to be turned away by convention organizers.

The opening invocation turned out to be the only calm in the storm that followed. When the delegate chosen by the Ron-Pauls stood to speak, the cops hauled him out. (Later, when he returned he was walking with a cane and said that some of his fingers had been broken, according to the Ron-Pauls).

Another Ron-Paul, Henry Herford, who was his faction’s first choice for convention chairman, was arrested, charged by police with “entering and remaining after being forbidden.” During the ensuing scuffle, Herford’s artificial hip was dislocated, the Ron-Pauls claimed.

The whole thing was artificial, the non-Pauls shot back, charging that the affair had been carefully orchestrated and choreographed.

Whatever, it proved fine theater.

During the simultaneous state conventions that followed, non-Pauls seated in chairs facing one side of the convention room and Ron-Pauls seated in chairs facing the other side, the non-Pauls appointed 30 delegates, 16 in accordance with the primary election results and 14 expected to go for Romney. The Ron-Pauls came up with a slate of 27 loyalists to their candidate.

They will be sorting this one out at the National Republican Convention in August.