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Sparks fly at Nevada Republican Party convention

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By Elizabeth Crum, Nevada News Bureau: An impassioned motion to revoke credentials for more than 300 delegates who arrived after the meeting began. Heated questions about the presence of guests and whether they were voting. An angry motion to remove the convention chairman. And that was just for starters.

More than 1,600 county delegates today gathered at the Nevada Republican Party convention in Sparks in a meeting that fluctuated between contentiousness and relative calm as the hours rolled on.

Photo, Nevada News Bureau

Ultimately, though shouting occurred frequently during motions and discussions, each point of order was addressed and each motion was voted up or down without the fist fights feared by some.

The most notable occurrence of the day came when the sitting Nevada Committeeman and Committeewoman for the Republican National Party were both deposed by wide margins.

Committeewoman Heidi Smith caused a stir when she spoke briefly but passionately before the election.

“The only way we can get that damn socialist out of the White House is to vote for the man who will do it!” Smith stated emphatically. She then held up a Mitt Romney sign as Ron Paul supporters booed loudly.

Diana Orrock, a self-described Constitutional conservative from Clark County, won Committeewoman handily with more than 900 votes. Nevada Republican Party vice-chairman James Smack also easily beat longstanding Committeeman Gov. Bob List with 932 votes to List’s 623.

Orrock and Smack will take office and serve their term of four years after their elections are ratified at the Republican national convention in Tampa.

The most egregious impropriety occurred when Romney supporters were caught distributing a “fake” slate of Ron Paul delegates. They were asked to cease their activities and delegates were informed of the differences between the fake and real slates as the convention chairman called for order and respect for the process.

Josh Romney, whose father Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucus on Feb. 4 with 50 percent of the vote and is the presumed GOP nominee, gave a brief speech to the crowd before lunch. He encouraged unity and gave a nod to the many Paul supporters in the room.

“I recognize that Congressman Paul is still in the race and working hard,” said Romney.

Romney also reminded the room that President Obama said during his 2008 campaign that if he did not fix the financial situation in the country, he’d be facing a “one term proposition.”

“Well, Mr. President, we’re here to collect,” quipped Romney.

Rep. Ron Paul spoke for 16 minutes in the mid-afternoon, gifting the room with nuggets of Paulian wisdom including the usual calls for a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, an end to unauthorized wars and the shrinking of government.

Paul’s campaign has been organizing in Nevada for months with plans to dominate at the state convention and attempt to elect a majority slate of national delegates. Votes throughout the deal revealed a roughly even split between Romney and Paul supporters in the room.

Rep. Mark Amodei also addressed the convention, but other top GOP leaders including Gov. Sandoval, Rep. Joe Heck and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller were not present.

A key vote occurred early in the day when delegates decided to sustain a new rule that once a quorum was established, a challenge to the quorum or another call for quorum would not be permitted until all convention business was completed.

The rule enables the convention to go on even if delegates were to leave.

Late Saturday night, amendments to party Bylaws were being proposed and voted upon as the counting of votes for delegates to the national convention ensued. Numerous shouting matches broke out between delegates and at one point the exhausted chairwoman of the Bylaws Committee seemed to be on the verge of tears as she pleaded for patience.

After the vote count is completed later tonight, the convention is expected to adjourn for the evening. It is not clear whether final vote totals will be announced before that adjournment.

Sunday’s agenda will include any unfinished business from Saturday plus the Resolutions Committee and Platform Committee Reports.

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