The Missouri caucuses may have marked Ron Paul's most successful day of the 2012 campaign, as anecdotes from across the state indicate a strong showing.
To varying degrees, proceedings grew contentious between Paul supporters and local GOP officials. The gist of the disputes: GOP organizers said the Paul backers were boisterous and obstructive. Paul backers wanted to be heard.
While speculation has been noted on a national level that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are somehow colluding in the 2012 race, anecdotal evidence from Missouri suggests some cooperation: In counties where Paul supporters showed well, Romney supporters and Paul supporters appeared together on mixed delegate slates. Local GOP officials said they couldn't say, one way or another, whether Paul and Romney backers seemed to be cooperating in any organized way at individual caucus sites.
In St. Charles County, organizers and police shut down the caucus amid a bitter dispute between Ron Paul supporters and the caucus chairman. Two Ron Paul supporters were arrested, then released. A police helicopter showed up. The caucus was held in a high school gym, and about 2,500 people attended. "It's like the Hatfields and the McCoys around here," former St. Charles GOP chairman Tom Kipers said of the ongoing dispute between county GOP leaders and Paul supporters. http://abcn.ws/xY22zt
The Kansas City Star reports that things got contentious in Clay County, too: "In Clay County, arguments between Paul supporters and others became so intense that the caucus chairman threatened to have voters removed by force. … [Paul supporter:] 'We raised a number of points of order, points of information, points of parliamentary inquiry, many of which have been ignored.'" http://bit.ly/zV6XxR
Boone County, which encompasses Columbia and the University of Missouri, elected a slate of Ron Paul-backing delegates, after Paul supporters succeeded in electing their own caucus chair. (That's a normal part of caucus procedure: the first vote taken is on who will chair the meeting.) One GOP member described the Paul supporters as "loud, boisterous," and "obnoxious" at the meeting - although the local GOP chairman said things were civil and that GOP officials get along fine with the Paul people there. The caucus elected 48 Ron Paul delegates and 5 Mitt Romney delegates, according to a local GOP official.
Greene County (a large GOP county in Southwest Missouri, encompassing Springfield) elected a mixed slate of 65 Ron Paul delegates, 40 Mitt Romney delegates, and six Rick Santorum delegates. "A few [caucus attendees] got a little loud," said Danette Proctor, the county GOP chair who presided over the caucus. "But I just said, 'Be quiet.'"
In keeping with what seems to be a trend, a Ron Paul supporter in Lincoln County alleged that GOP officials violated caucus rules in an attempt to silence Paul supporters. Quote from a Ron Paul supporter, as posted on a blog: "They practically ignored the State GOP guidelines and rules. The severely butchered Robert's Rules of Order." Note: GOP caucuses (in Missouri, as well as in Iowa) are governed by Robert's Rules of Order, although Missouri counties can use their own rules … and then adopt new rules after electing a caucus chairman. http://bit.ly/xmimXP
In Christian County, south of Springfield, a local GOP official said Rick Santorum supporters came out as winners, electing a mixed slate of mostly Santorum backers and some Romney backers.
Rick Santorum spoke at the Chesterfield, Mo., caucus site in St. Louis County this morning - but his supporters only narrowly won out. A slate of Santorum-backing delegates narrowly defeated a mixed slate of Paul and Romney supporters, according to a Chesterfield GOP official.