ST. CLOUD – Supporters of presidential hopeful Ron Paul picked up 12 of 13 national delegates chosen at this weekend’s state Republican party convention. They will represent the state party in Tampa, FL at the Republican National Convention.
The audience of mostly Paul supporters erupted after they realized they nearly swept the slate. It means 32 of the 40 delegates heading to Tampa are confirmed supporters of Ron Paul. Another potential Paul delegate, Don Huizenga,dropped his bid after he didn’t pick up the needed 50 percent on the first ballot. His concession means GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, a one-time candidate for president, can be a delegate at the national convention.
“We’re very happy,” said Pastor Kevin Erickson, a national delegate elected out of the 8th Congressional District. “From Minnesota, we’ll cast 32 votes for Ron Paul. The rest, we’ll see what happens.”
The strength of Paul’s supporters means several well known Republicans will not be headed to Tampa. They include former Congressman Mark Kennedy, state Rep. Keith Downey, Republican Party Treasurer Bron Scherer, Republican Party Deputy Party Chair Kelly Fenton and 6th District Republican Party Chair Jen Niska.
Paul supporters have said repeatedly that they are likely to back presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney in November but they say they want to send a message that candidates should stick to constitutional principals.
Paul played a major role at this weekend’s convention. He spoke to delegates, held a fundraiser for the party and posed for pictures for hundreds of people who backed his campaign. Romney’s presence was virtually nonexistent. His wife, Ann, recorded a video message but there were no surrogates.
Three of the national delegate slots are awarded to the state party chair, the Republican National Committeeman and the National Committeewoman.
Update: Paul supporters also picked up the 13 of the 13 alternate delegates to the RNC. That means 25 of the 26 people elected delegates and alternate delegates at the State Party Convention are Paul supporters. 32 of the 40 delegates to the RNC are confirmed Ron Paul supporters.
Note: Post has been updated that Huizenga conceded and to clarify delegate totals.