February 15, 2012

Some in GOP want recount in Maine caucuses

With errors, underreporting and a whole county put on hold, others say it's time to switch to a primary instead.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Mitt Romney, left, won the Maine caucuses by a small margin, but supporters of Ron Paul, right, allege bias.

The Associated Press

Charles Webster
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Charlie Webster

The Associated Press

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The caucus vote is a nonbinding preference poll, he noted, and the Maine delegates who are elected to go to the national convention will ultimately decide whom to support.

Paul Madore, state chairman of the Ron Paul campaign, said the refusal to change the vote count shows the bias in Maine's Republican Party against conservatives, and could further disenfranchise them.

"Those who control the party in terms of its authority are at odds with its base, which is conservative," Madore said.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, would like this presidential caucus to be the last. Maine's caucus process has generated confusion in past years.

In 1988, after Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson mounted a caucus challenge against George H.W. Bush, the Maine Legislature considered a switch to primary voting as a way to increase participation and make the process harder for any one candidate to manipulate.

In 1992, the Democratic caucuses generated discussion when Jerry Brown challenged the official results, giving Paul Tsongas a narrow victory.

The Legislature has stuck with caucuses mostly because of the potential cost of holding an additional statewide election.

"This isn't the first (caucus controversy), although this one has certainly caused the biggest uproar," said Pettengill, the state committee member from Kennebec County.

While Democrats now hold all of their caucuses on the same day – Feb. 26 this year – Republicans leave the scheduling up to local committees and set new rules every four years.

"It's confusing for all of us, even for those of us who have been around," Pettengill said.

She said she and others will push for another debate in the Legislature about whether to switch to primary voting.

"I am a strong advocate of a presidential primary," she said, "because of something like this and because everybody's voice should be heard."

 

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: jrichardson@mainetoday.com

 

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