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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

April 30, 2012 at 8:02 AM

Younger Republicans hedge their support of Romney at King County GOP Convention

Finding people under the age of 30 who support Romney is a challenge in the Seattle area. Most support Romney, now that Perry, Santorum and Gingrich are out. But it seems like the majority of them were Paul supporters from the start.

SEATTLE — While many Seattleites were outside enjoying the sunshine on Saturday, almost a thousand hard-core Republican Party members were gathering for the  2012 King County GOP Convention.

(Photo by Lucas Anderson / UW Election Eye)

The meeting, which was held at the Washington State Convention Center, was full of enthusiastic Republicans sporting Mitt Romney, Michael Baumgartner, Rob McKenna and Shahram Hadain stickers and buttons. Ron Paul supporters were also on hand.

Those who visited the Paul campaign booth enjoyed free hard candy, while others enjoyed free doughnuts, courtesy of state Sen. Michael Baumgartner’s campaign. Baumgartner is running for Maria Cantwell’s U.S. Senate seat. Free doughnuts and candies might have off-set the $35 it cost delegates to attend the convention.

When I first entered the convention hall, I immediately noticed a lack of youth representation. I remembered how much youth involvement there was during the 2008 election season and it wasn’t just for Barack Obama. I was living in Arizona at the time and I remembered seeing a sizable amount of youth supporting U.S. Sen. John McCain’s campaign. I know Arizona is McCain’s home state and typically a red state, but there’s got to be some young Republican voters in the room who support Romney, right?

Well, sort of.

Romney supporters at the King County GOP Convention. (Photo Lucas Anderson / UWElection Eye)

Autumn Davis, from the 30th Legislative District, said she hoped Rick Santorum would win the GOP nomination, but now supports Romney. “I see Romney as a businessman and a classic Republican,” 18-year-old Davis said. “But he’s not as conservative as I want.” Lucas King, a 28-year-old from the 1st Legislative District, said he never cared much for politics until this election season. “I’ve been a Republican since I was 18,” King said, wearing a Ron Paul pin. “I always voted the party line, but I’m a die-hard [Paul] supporter now.” King expressed his frustration of how the younger generation — the Paul supporters — is mistreated. “You can’t push our candidate [Paul] away and expect us to vote for Romney,” he said. He said if Paul’s name were not on the ballot for any position, he wouldn’t cast a vote for the presidential race.

Then there were the angry members from the 37th Legislative District. King County Republican Chairman Lori Sotelo allegedly disrupted their caucus, which was held on April 21. The group voted for Tamra Smilanich, a Paul supporter to run the caucus, instead of David Irons who was Sotelo’s choice. Sotelo allegedly asked the group of Paul supporters to hold their meeting outside. After the caucus, videos of the incident appeared online.

When the convention began, George Abrantes, a GOP member from the 36th Legislative District stood up and asked Sotelo what leadership and integrity means to her, while holding a video camera. Abrantes alleges that within 10 minutes, law enforcement approached him and asked him to stop filming or be arrested. “A lot of times it’s because they cheat and they don’t want people to see,” he said. “If you’re having things totally open, why do you care?” Michele St. Pierre, a fellow Paul supporter added: “They’re Romney supporters and they want to shut us down. There’s a hostility toward Ron Paul supporters.”

Nothing in the rules book for the convention stated filming was prohibited. A motion was brought to the floor to ban filming of the convention (except for the videographer the party had hired), but it failed to get a 2/3 majority vote. “We have a lot of business to take care of here,” Sotelo said, “and they’re harassing people and intimidating them. We have a videographer we hired and if people want a copy, they can ask for that.”

Emily Rensink at the King County GOP Convention (Photo by Lucas Anderson / UW Election Eye)

Emily Rensink, 26, of North Beacon Hill, said that she too, has noticed the hostility against Ron Paul supporters. Rensink, who is originally from Indiana, said living in Seattle as a Republican has been challenging. “I have friends who are similar,” she said, “who dress the same and listening to the same music. We don’t talk about politics.”

Despite the overhelming number of Republicans who support Romney over President Obama, Istvan Fogassy said he would vote for Obama. But not because Obama is a good leader. “If the [economic] bubble is going to burst,” Fogassy said, “I’d rather have a Democratic leader. I want the country to fail sooner so we can rebuild sooner.”


Follow Stephanie Kim on Twitter: @SeaStephanieKim 

Comments | More in Local | Topics: 37th Legislative District, Barack Obama, GOP Convention


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