Saturday, May 5, 2012 | 11:15 a.m.
A deeply divided contingent of more than 1,200 Republicans has gathered at a Sparks casino to elect delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla.
Within an hour of the convention being gaveled open, accusations of fake ballots, scuffles over seating and brief disagreements over rules erupted.
Overall, however, business proceeded rather smoothly with a delegation that seemed tipped toward Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who is scheduled to speak this afternoon.
Josh Romney, whose father Mitt Romney is the presumed GOP nominee, gave a brief speech to the crowd, focusing his attacks on President Barack Obama.
“This is a very important state for us,” Josh Romney told the crowd, which applauded politely but didn’t erupt into raucous cheers. “We’re campaigning hard here, we’re going to continue to campaign hard here.”
Romney won the Nevada caucus on Feb. 4 with 50 percent of the vote.
But despite coming in third, Paul’s campaign has been organizing to control the state convention and elect a majority slate of national delegates. It’s part of a state-by-state strategy to send enough delegates to Tampa to influence the national convention.
Romney’s forces appeared organized, positioning vote whips in bright orange hats throughout the convention hall to cue supporters on how to vote on specific motions.
But Paul’s supporters have spent months training delegates on the arcane rules governing the convention and have built an elaborate network to communicate with them on the floor.
Still, mischief ensued, with a “fake” slate of Paul delegates being circulated on the convention floor.
“Let’s be grown up folks,” said Rachel Stephens, a Paul delegate who took to the microphone to chastise delegates passing out the “fake” slate.
“I don’t care if Romney wins legitimately, but if he wins because of fake stuff, I have a problem with that,” she said.