The Republican Party of Arkansas' State Committee will meet on Saturday to elect the 21 “at-large” delegates to the national convention. This meeting is not to be confused with the Republican State Convention which meets later in July.
Instead, this is the large committee of about 350 members made of county chairs and committeemen/women, Republican elected officials, and other Republican leaders.
Although I expect the meeting to be tame, here are a few things I will be watching…
Will Paul's Supporters Have An Impact?
The supporters of Ron Paul have turned his Presidential campaign into more of a libertarian movement within the Republican Party and we have seen waves of this movement here in Arkansas. At the Congressional District Caucuses earlier this month, they were very organized and were able to elect their “stealth delegates” for the three slots from the Second District and three slots from the Fourth Districts as well as several alternates.
I don't anticipate them being able to repeat this on Saturday. In fact, the Arkansas coordinator Monica Serrano tells me they don't even plan to try.
“We have absolutely no plans to elect delegates on Saturday. The process does not lend its self to such action. Delegates elected on Saturday will be voted on by the old guard, mostly,” said Serrano in an email interview with the Tolbert Report. ” Although we do have some people from our camp in positions of leadership, we do not have enough. Plus, we made our statement already. We showed the establishment that we are here and we are not leaving.”
Of course, this could be a bit of misdirection from them, but I think Serrano is shooting straight. I would instead be looking for their movement to have an impact on the state convention and the party platform. I know that a sizable group showed up at many of the county conventions this past week and were elected delegates to the state convention in July. Many also were elected to district and state positions which will take effect later this year.
Big Names Should Win
Saturday, I would look
for party leaders to pick some of the well-known names on the ballot for National Delegates such as Senator John Boozman, Congressman Rick Crawford, Congressman Tim Griffin, Congressman Steve Womack, State Sen. Jason Rapert, Rep. Duncan Baird, Rep. Ann Clemmer, Rep. Les Carnine, Rep. Andrea Lea, and Rep. John Burris.
Coleman's “Measuring the Bubble” Meeting
I have picked up various buzz all week about some sort of meeting Curtis Coleman has organized following the state committee meeting to discuss a possible run for governor. Apparently, the meeting is with potential county coordinators.
Coleman confirmed to me that he is having a meeting, which he says is part of what he is calling his “Measuring the Bubble” meetings. He says he is not close to a final decision and is focused on helping with the 2012 races.
Will Barnett Get A Challenger
Not only will the state committee elect national delegates, but they will also elect the national committee man and woman – currently State Rep. Jonathan Barnett and Reta Hamilton.
I would be surprised if anyone opposed Hamilton, Hamilton is term limited and Jonelle Fulmer of Fort Smith plans to run for the open spot. There has been talk about a challenger for Barnett. (UPDATE – Multiple sources are telling me Jim Reavis Chairman of the Washington County Republicans is campaign to challenge Barnett.)
If I recall, Barnett was elected two years ago over Coleman when the position was open after Jim Burnett passed away. Barnett has received criticism particularly for his leading role in getting his highway funding bill with a proposed half-cent state sales tax increase passed. A promised primary challenger for his re-election to the legislature never materialized and likely a challenger for his party office will not either, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on.
All and all the meeting will likely go slowly and will not have the fireworks that we saw at last week's state Democratic meeting.