See updates below. Ron Paul is set to speak at the Minnesota Republican convention Friday, and party activists in the Fifth District are preparing for a possible Paul win—with one local activist saying "I get the feeling I'm witnessing history."
Paul is poised to make a strong showing in Minnesota after congressional-district conventions gave him 20 of 24 available national delegates. The Texas congressman was denied a speaking slot at the 2008 state convention, but has proven a popular candidate and speaker here since—turning fans away, for example, from an over-capacity speech in Arden Hills shortly before Minnesota's 2012 caucus night.
On Monday, Paul announced his campaign would stop spending money in states that haven't yet held primaries or caucuses (see video). But that didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm and sense of anticipation of Paul's Fifth District fans.
Update (9:30 a.m. Tuesday): Adam J. Weigold, chair of the Fifth Congressional District MNGOP, said by email Tuesday Paul has a supermajority of support from the district:
"At the CD5 convention Paul had support from between 90-125 of the 150 delegates. The state convention delegates are elected separately, but by the same groups that elect to the CD5 convention. It's safe to assume that a super-majority of them from CD5 are Paul supporters. All three delegates and all three alternates elected from CD5 to the national convention are Paul supporters."
Weigold said he sees Paul's appearance as a chance for Minnesota Republicans to show off their big-tent approach:
"Over the last 4 years the Minnesota Republican party has slowly been thawing to the realization that a large influx of people are willing to join the ranks of the Republican Party if it returns to it's base principals that Dr. Paul stands for. Giving Ron Paul the stage during the convention is a big step in the direction of allowing the party to grow. I sincerely hope the MNGOP leadership continue to advance the party in the direction of being a party of addition and not subtraction, a party of inclusion not rejection, a party that stands for something instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator. We have welcomed Ron Paul's supporters with openness and transparency in the Fifth district, and I hope delegates from across the state do the same this weekend in St. Cloud.
Fifth District Standard-bearer
Chris Fields, the Republican endorsee to challenge U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) in the Fifth District, said by email Monday he is looking forward to Paul's appearance:
"It’s exciting to have a high profile guest at our convention this week. I’m glad that the Congressman will be bringing attention to Minnesota, which has a vibrant political community. A number of the Congressman’s supporters are also supporters of mine, and I’m sure that those attending the convention will be excited to see a presidential candidate swinging by our great state."
Fields' rival for the party endorsement, Lynne Torgerson, said afterwards that the Fifth District convention had been "overrun by Ron Paul libertarians." (She then dropped out of the race.) Torgerson, reached by phone Monday as she returned to the Twin Cities from Marshall, MN, said she was leaving for a trip to Israel and wouldn't be attending the convention, although she may keep tabs on the action via the Internet.
One of the local party leaders supporting Paul is Camden Pike, Republican chair in the (new) state Senate District 41, in the northeast corner of the Fifth District. Pike said by email Monday that while Paul has "stopped actively campaigning in upcoming primary states, the race is far from over." Pike continued:
We will now shift to a strong grassroots campaign that is already on the ground in major states such as California. We will continue to work, both here in Minnesota, as well as in other states, to win Dr. Paul as many delegates as possible to the National Convention in Tampa, Florida. There is much work to be done, not just in the presidential race, but in our local campaigns as well. The campaign for liberty is not an effort defined by one man, but a movement to restore freedom and financial security to our state, and to our nation.
Republican District 41 vice chair and Fridley City Committee Chair John Anderson said by email Monday he supports Paul though does not describe himself as a "Paulite." He foresees a possible Paul win in Minnesota:
Personally, I think Ron Paul speaking at the convention will be a big deal to everyone who is attending, whether they support him or not. There is always a lot of energy when he makes appearances. He has a very non traditional strategy to getting the nomination. I have to say that it's looking more and more like it could be successful. If it is then we will find party politics in states that elect delegates at conventions to be much more aggressive in the future. This strategy really doesn't require campaigning in the classic sense. Might be a smart move, all I know is I get the feeling I'm witnessing history that I will talk about with my kids either way.
Update (Noon Tuesday): Richard Walch of Fridley says he is happy to see Paul get delegate support to advance a more limited role for the United States around the world:
"The movement isn't about him, it's about what he stands for. So I remain as motivated as ever to continue working to elect delegates to Tampa. They'll be able to influence party rules (to encourage transparency and fairness in nominations) and change the party platform. For me, I'm primarily motivated by foreign policy: I believe we need to return to a restrained foreign policy consistent with the Constitution and the intent of the framers."