National media have mostly ignored the fact Texas Congressman Ron Paul came within 152 votes of leader Michele Bachmann in the Iowa Presidential Straw Poll earlier this month. Now local Republicans are doing some Ron Paul ignoring of their own. And feisty local supporters of the feisty congressman are up in arms about it.
On August 3, Grant McCallum, one of the organizers of the Cleveland-area Ron Paul Meet Up group, noticed the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County had a presidential preference poll on its website. Paul and Mitt Romney were tied for second with 22 votes each. Tim Pawlenty led with 24. With those kinds of numbers and 200 Meet Up members, pushing Paul to the top wasn’t hard.
“I sent out an e-mail to the Meet Up list that said, Hey, the local Republican Party has a straw poll; vote for Ron Paul,” says McCallum. “I got a response back an hour later saying, good news, Ron Paul is way in front with 15.2 percent.”
But then something odd happened: McCallum observed as Paul’s votes were reset back to 0.
“This is the mentality of the RPCC ... mad yet?” he wrote to his followers. “I hope so ... ”
A few days later, Paul’s votes were reset to 8. It came with the following disclaimer:
“An additional respected candidate is Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Unfortunately, due to continued abuse by an overzealous supporter,we are unable to add the Congressman to the candidates list above, as the poll results will once again become distorted. Prior to this misuse occurring, Congressman Paul had 8 votes.”
So Cleveland Heights businessman and former Republican candidate for county council Matt Brakey posted an item at DailyPaul.com, a national website for Paul supporters. He explained what was going on and urged them, “Please, please, please, go to the website and vote for Ron Paul. Share this link with everyone. Let's blow up the vote total to force them to take down the poll!”
He got his wish.
We got no response from the county Republican Party. But they posted on their Facebook page, “Ron Paul has been on the list since the inception of the poll but today [August 17] he spiked from 8 votes to 133 votes in an hour and those votes came from just two IP addresses — a work computer and the same persons blackberry” and “Apparently we have one lonely guy repeatedly voting for Ron Paul.”
Yes, the “one lonely guy in his mom’s basement” defense.
Brakey concedes there might be such a guy, but says clearly more than eight Paul supporters voted.
“To be fair to the RPCC, I cannot say conclusively if there was a single IP out there that was abusing the poll and voting multiple times,” says Brakey. “Quite frankly, it would not surprise me if someone did this. [But] ‘just two IP addresses’? That is obviously sad but false. On the RPCC’s FB page alone, there were three Ron Paul supporters complaining about the vote being pulled.”
Paul got 2,700 votes in Cuyahoga County in the 2008 presidential primary. It’s tough to believe he doesn’t still have a couple of hundred supporters willing to go click on a button on a website. — Anastasia Pantsios