Is the Maine GOP really going to disenfranchise a county and a half? (Now with comments from Washington county)

Maine's counties

Due to weather conditions, Republican caucuses in Washington County and part of Hancock County were not held on February 11, 2012.

Despite this, the GOP powers-that-be went ahead, announced the caucus results, and said these were final results, not to be amended.

As Eric Russell reported, at least one party leader was pleased with the outcome.

“It’s good news. I’m hopeful this ends Romney’s little slide,” Maine House Speaker Robert Nutting said shortly after the announcement. “Romney is the best candidate to beat President Obama in the fall.”

Regarding Mitt Romney’s three-point lead over Ron Paul,

Peter Cianchette, the Maine chairman for the Romney campaign and a former candidate for governor, said his candidate received broad support across the state despite a strong push by Paul. “This was clearly a win and I think Maine showed him tremendous support.”

Is it just me, or does this seem sort of odd, particularly since last year, the Maine Republican party passed and defended a change in Maine’s voting procedures (which was then rejected by voters by a 60-40 margin), that they argued was necessary to protect the integrity of the ballot?  (Then again, the Republican approach to balloting involved making it harder to vote. But I digress.)

Perhaps, given the way the Maine GOP chooses its delegates to the national convention, this doesn’t make that big a difference. And perhaps “disenfranchise” is too strong a word.
But it might affect how the national media report on the presidential race, since the areas excluded probably would have reported results more oriented toward Paul than Romney. Another loss for Romney would have added to the narrative that his candidacy is in trouble.
It certainly could lead supporters of other Republican presidential candidates to be troubled. The very loyal and committed supporters of Ron Paul don’t tend to have trouble expressing themselves and they very well may speak up, both directly to the Maine Republican Party and to the public at large, through op-eds, letters-to-the editor, calls to talk shows, and other forms of communication.
On account of the snow, it does seem rather odd to exclude those caucus preference votes in the final count.

UPDATE, with comments from Washington County:

Washington County GOP Chairman Chris Gardner objected, saying he had known his county’s tally wouldn’t be included in Saturday’s announcement but didn’t realize it wouldn’t be counted at all. He said he had called state party leaders and “expressed my complete and utter dismay.”

Gardner, a Romney supporter, said the snowstorm had left him no choice but to postpone the caucuses.

“Refusal to reconsider under those circumstances would be extremely disheartening,” he told The Associated Press. “I trust that the party will make the right decision here.”

He added, “We will proceed next Saturday. We’ll have our vote and we are going to submit it to the state party for them to reconsider.”

Many Paul supporters were angry.

“There’s a very good chance that you’ll find that Washington County goes for Ron Paul,” said Mark Willis, a county coordinator for the Paul campaign.

His wife, Violet, added, “We don’t want to be disenfranchised.”

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.