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Maine Caucuses Finish Closer Than Expected, Strange Recount



by Thomas R. Eddlem

Ron Paul suppoerters in Maine

Photo of Ron Paul supporters at Washington County caucus: The New American

Washington County, Maine — Texas Congressman Ron Paul won strong victories in rural Maine caucuses February 18, but the Saturday caucuses do not quite appear to have lifted Paul to victory statewide over his chief rival, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. But there are new questions about some of the vote tallies in the updated Maine GOP count, especially where the results for the Portland caucus were reversed in favor of Romney.

The official tally for Washington County — a rural Maine county that had postponed its scheduled February 11 caucuses because of snow — showed 163 votes for Paul, 80 for Romney, 57 for Santorum, and three for Gingrich. Neither Gingrich nor Santorum had an official campaign presence at the caucuses in Maine.

The two-to-one Paul victory over Romney in Washington County alone won’t put Paul over the top statewide, however. According to the Paul campaign, the Texas congressman and obstetrician also picked up 39 votes in caucuses in neighboring Hancock County and a handful of other area caucuses February 18. A number of other towns were caucusing February 18 as well, but by the Paul campaign’s count at 5:00 p.m. they were still 84 votes short after counting Hancock and Washington Counties. The Bangor Daily News put Romney’s margin of victory at 117 votes.

Paul campaign state chairman Paul B. Madore told The New American it was “unlikely” the Paul campaign would come out of the non-binding presidential preference poll with the most votes if current GOP numbers stand. The Republican Party declared Romney the winner after the February 11 caucuses by less than 200 votes, even though Washington, much of Hancock County, and a dozen or so other towns across the state had yet to caucus. Moreover, Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster ran into angry Paul campaign officials after they had found out that several towns that had voted in favor of Paul, such as Belfast, did not have their results published on the official party list. Webster vowed not to update the list, but bowed to a barrage of criticism from party leaders across the state and released updated numbers February 17. The revised results released by the Maine GOP before Saturday’s caucuses showed a larger 229-vote margin of victory for Romney.

When The New American asked Madore about the revision in the Portland caucus numbers, Madore became upset. “This really disturbs me, when I see numbers like this,” he said. In Portland, the state GOP reported February 11 that Paul had won the caucus by a vote of 106 to 91. But in the February 17 revision, Romney had won the state’s largest city, by an identical 106 to 91 vote. Moreover, the revised numbers appear not to have taken any votes away from Romney in any town, except for a single vote from Hancock’s Verona Island. (In the same county, Romney lost five votes in Bar Harbor, but it’s possible that in the February 17 revision those “lost” votes were moved to nearby Trenton, where Romney gained five votes.) Paul, on the other hand, not only lost 15 votes in Portland, he also lost every single one of the 20 votes he had garnered in York County’s Limington according to the results the state GOP initially reported on February 11.

The mood at the Washington County caucus Saturday was symbolized by the lapel sticker “You WILL count me” that members of all the campaigns were wearing. The stickers were a clear reaction to Webster’s claim a week earlier that he would not update the results. “They’re hurting themselves if they don’t  have Washington County counted,” Madore told The New American.

Both the Paul and Romney campaigns touted the turnout in Washington County, which was a significant increase over the 2008 numbers. “The story is the record number of people here,” Romney staffer Greg Gallivan told The New American. “There’s a good turnout, a strong turnout,” Madore agreed. “That’s a job well done.”


[CIM Comment]

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Maine GOP recounting caucus votes



Maine Ron Paul Supporters photo

Paul supporters have pushed for another look into the state's caucuses. | AP Photo


The Maine Republican Party, under fire from Ron Paul supporters for its mishandling of the state’s recent caucuses, is now re-canvassing counties and municipalities to recount vote totals.

POLITICO obtained an email from the State Republican Party asking local chairmen to send them the vote totals from their local straw polls.

“County Chairman & Town Chairman,” an email written by a state Republican Party staffer reads. “We are reconfirming the totals from the Presidential Preference Straw poll. Can you please EMAIL ME the totals from your towns. For County Chairman if you are emailing the total for your entire county can you please list the towns that are included.”

The letter was forwarded by a longtime Republican activist in Maine.

The Maine Republican Party and its chairman, Charlie Webster, have been under attack in the last week for declaring Mitt Romney winner of the presidential straw poll in Maine when not all of the state’s caucuses have met to vote yet.

On Saturday, Webster announced that Romney had won the presidential straw poll. Romney won the non-binding caucuses by just three points, 39 percent to Ron Paul’s 36 percent. Less than 200 votes separated the totals of Romney and second-place finisher Ron Paul.

Several localities were not included in the presidential straw poll, including Washington County, where the caucuses were cancelled for the reason of inclement weather. Others municipalities had local caucuses scheduled for after Webster’s announcement.

Washington County is expected to caucus this coming Saturday.

Webster told POLITICO on Saturday that although the Maine caucuses were scheduled for Feb. 4 to Feb. 11, he had no ability to tell local groups when to caucus. He estimated there are 505 municipalities in Maine, of which 420 have caucused. An additional 40 or so small municipalities will not hold a caucus at all, and the remaining would caucus after his announcement.

Ron Paul’s campaign called the exclusion of Washington County’s results “inexplicable” on election night.

“Paul performed well throughout the state, although his campaign’s stronghold of Washington County did not report today for inexplicable reasons,” according to a statement released by the campaign.

The campaign released a second, more scathing email to supporters later on that evening.

“In Washington County – where Ron Paul was incredibly strong – the caucus was delayed until next week just so the votes wouldn’t be reported by the national media today. That’s right. A prediction of 3-4 inches – that turned into nothing more than a dusting – was enough for a local GOP official to postpone the caucuses just so the results wouldn’t be reported tonight,” read the statement.

“Just the votes of Washington County would have been enough to put us over the top. This is an outrage. But our campaign is in this race to win, and will stay in it to the very end,” it continued.

It remains to be seen whether the results in Washington County would lean towards Paul’s favor. In addition, only 118 votes were cast in the county in 2008 – not enough to make up the difference between Romney and Paul if a similar number of voters showed up to caucus.

Neither state chair Charlie Webster nor the staffer who wrote the email immediately responded to a request for comment on Thursday.

[CIM Comment]
As Lew Rockwell (@lewrockwell) wisely points out:
The Maine GOP, under pressure from Ron Paul supporters, will recount all the votes, says Politico. (Not that we can trust these crooks this time, either–all elections are rigged, to some extent–but this time, at least, the scrutiny will be intense.)
Lew’s point has been seen in quite a few caucuses so far resulting in two GOP Chairpersons stepping down.  The GOP appears to have laid out their agenda and it matters not if it is the will of the people.  This will give you a glance at the form of honest government we will be under should the likes of Romney, Gingrich or Santorum be elected.  It will be status quo, business as usual, and no real change from that “change” that the people demanded last election.  How is the hope and change working out for you?

Now more than every we need the Champion of the Constitution!

Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site by following the link below and donate today!

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