Las Vegas Sun

September 26, 2023


Paul backers give in, graciously


Sam Morris

The Nevada delegation cheers Thursday during a speech about Sara Palin at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

In the end, the revolution would be fought from within.

Nevada’s loyal supporters of one-time presidential hopeful Ron Paul, who pushed so hard for a seat at the table at the Republican National Convention, decided when their moment arrived last week to break bread rather than dishes.

On the third night of the convention, when the state Republican Party chairman stood in the hall and announced Nevada would be casting all of its 34 delegates for Sen. John McCain, it was because the Paul supporters made it so.

Paul delegate Carl Bunce said Friday they decided not to spoil the party. Bunce knew Republicans from Nevada, a swing state this election year, wanted desperately to present a unified front for McCain.

The Paul supporters had to decide — make a point or make peace?

Their few votes would not bring the congressman’s suspended campaign for the presidency any closer to its goal. Nor would they stop the ascension of McCain. Had they abstained, which under party rules was the only act of opposition they were allowed, it would be a symbolic act.

So Bunce and the other Paul delegates decided to use the political capital they had gained during the months-long war with the state party to try to generate a little more.

“We gave an olive branch,” he said.

This was not an easy gesture.

The Paul contingent has battled the state Republican Party all year. After a few of them were ultimately invited to St. Paul, they arrived only to feel like unwanted cousins.

Bunce and Chris Dyer tell a funny story about trying to sit next to each other on the floor of the convention, only to be told by state party leaders they must sit in their assigned seats, separated from each other.

When the state finally relented on the last night of the convention, Bunce was already on a plane home.

“I understand their fears,” Bunce said. “They think we’re all crazy.”

Bunce ends a lot of sentences that way — with the acknowledgment that most people think the Paul people are crazy.

They’re tired of being kooks. They want to be players.

The man settling into the seat next to this reporter on the plane ride from Minnesota on Friday talked about a book he’s reading.

It’s Paul’s “The Revolution: A Manifesto,” which is exactly what the cover says it is. He had a signed copy.

He was an alternate Paul delegate from Texas and he said the plan now is to make inroads with local Republican parties. They don’t want to take down the party, they want to become it.

Dyer said he and Bunce, who ran recently failed in congressional primary elections, want to run for office again. So they had motivation to play nice.

When the roll call vote came, Bunce and Dyer forfeited their seats so two McCain supporters could fill the slots.

Not all of Paul’s supporters are pleased. Wayne Terhune, the Sparks dentist who had helped lead the fight, said “they should have at least abstained.”

But when told about the move, the seatmate on the plane, Matt Sistrunk, called it “a class act.”

As party Chairwoman Sue Lowden announced Nevada’s 34 unanimous votes for McCain, Bunce and Dyer were at a concert a few blocks away.

They were listening to Rage Against the Machine, the 1990s rock band that once offered a soundtrack for a generation of politically disaffected young fans. Dyer served in the military during the band’s early days and had never seen it perform.

He thought he could use a jolt of anger “to kind of recharge my activist batteries.”

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