February 15, 2012

Bill Nemitz: Tip for Maine GOP – First collect votes, then name winner

Mercifully, the decision on which presidential candidates get which of Maine's 24 delegates to the national convention won't be made until the Republican state convention in May.

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com

(Continued from page 1)

We move next to Waldo County, where the caucus results posted on the state party's website don't come close to matching those compiled by the county. While the state GOP says Paul got 37 votes to Romney's 30, Waldo County's spreadsheet shows Paul winning, 71-50.

Contacted Tuesday, Waldo County Republican Party Chairman Raymond St. Onge explained that several towns held a "super caucus" in Belfast on Feb. 4 and he faxed those results to state party headquarters a few days later.

The problem, St. Onge said, is that those early returns were never added to those from the other Waldo County towns that caucused and reported in on Saturday – leaving his county's overall results incomplete.

Then there's the city of Waterville, where 21 people voted for Paul, five went with Romney and three lined up behind Newt Gingrich. Those results don't appear in the state GOP's tally, which shows nothing but goose eggs for the Elm City.

"I don't think there was any foul play or anything there. I just think it just somehow got left out," Neal Patterson, who chaired the Waterville caucus, said Tuesday. "If there's a posting on the Web, and I haven't researched the Web, I would expect it would now reflect Waterville's totals."

Except it doesn't.

The good news, of course, is that these and God knows what other snafus that occurred last weekend can do only so much damage. Caucuses or no caucuses, the decision on which presidential candidates get which of Maine's 24 delegates to the national convention won't be made until Maine Republicans gather for their state convention in May.

But it's hard not to look at all the confusion – and the national head-shaking that comes with it – and remember Chairman Webster's oft-repeated claims last year that Maine's election system is rife with fraud and that we all should get behind the GOP's efforts to "fix" it.

So what say you now, Charlie?

"I thought it worked pretty well," Webster replied. "The Dems have all the staff, we don't. We have one person. We're conservative. We don't hire people we don't need."

As for all the local glitches – there's also some muttering among Paul supporters in Oxford County – Webster said the state party did everything it could to explain the rules to the county and town committees.

Beyond that, he said, "we can't hold these people's hands."

Maybe not.

But you might at least count their votes.


Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: bnemitz@mainetoday.com


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