Ron Paul organizer Ryan Davidson will be a delegate to the Idaho State GOP convention, but his plan to take over the June meeting and deliver Idaho's delegates to Paul rather than Mitt Romney appears at serious risk.
Paul forces were counting on Idaho's two largest counties as key to their strategy, but Ada County Republicans voted Thursday night to bind all their delegates to the state convention to support Romney.
Romney won all 32 Idaho delegates at the March GOP presidential caucus, with 62 percent of the vote.
"My position is that it's completely illegal," Davidson said Friday, adding that he may attempt to overturn the decision at the state convention in Twin Falls that begins June 21.
Davidson was elected as a delegate from Legislative District 16, but lost his bid to be elected a state committeeman from Ada County. He was defeated by Dave Shurtleff, one of a slate of precinct committeemen loyal to Romney and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.
But an attempt by Tana Cory to elect a slate loyal to Otter failed on a tie vote. Finally, at 10 p.m.., after three hours, the new Ada County GOP Central Committee agreed to a slate of state delegates suggested by County Chairman Dwight Johnson. Cory is a member of Otter's Cabinet as chief of the Bureau of Occupational Licenses.
"We didn't get shut out completely," said Davidson. "We do have some delegates."
Davidson said perhaps a third of the Ada delegates may be willing to support an alternative to Otter's choice as party chairman. He said he's not ready to give up on electing Paul delegates to the national convention, noting that county organizational meetings aren't finished. "I don't know," Davidson said. "Once all the conventions are done Saturday, we'll have to count it up."
Johnson, an Otter-Romney loyalist, was reelected as Ada County Chairman without opposition. He did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
In Canyon County, state Sen. Melinda Smyser of Parma was elected chairman Wednesday night. She defeated former Libertarian Maurice Clements, who last week lost a bitter challenge to Sen. Patti Anne Lodge of Huston by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin.
Smyser said her aim is unity. "We're going to keep Canyon County the Republican stronghold that it is."
Smyser, who is leaving the Senate to become an aide to U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, said she spoke with Clements Friday. "We've got a lot to do to unify the party, defeat Barack Obama and elect Republicans. Maurice is a great guy."
In Canyon County, the party drew lots to select its delegation to the state convention. "At 10 o'clock, after four hours, we did a lottery."
Said Davidson: "That seemed fair. We got some delegates."