Ron Paul Supporters Fail by Just Two Votes to Take Control of Miami-Dade GOP

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: December 19, 2012 3:55 AM
Emiliano Antunez, Ron Paul and Nelson Diaz

Emiliano Antunez, Ron Paul and Nelson Diaz

Republican grassroots activists, inspired by the message of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, failed to gain control of the Miami-Dade County GOP Tuesday night, but they have nevertheless won a record number of seats in the county party apparatus.

Most of these victories were won several months ago – and not only in Miami-Dade – but they are only being made public now.

Two Paul supporters were elected to the board of directors of Miami-Dade County’s Republican Executive Committee, one of the largest RECs in the state: Rosa Palomino as vice chairwoman and Elizabeth Romney-Robayna as treasurer.

In addition, about 48 to 51 of the approximately 128 new committee persons seated Tuesday self-identify as supporters of the Texas congressman’s libertarian conservatism.

Sources from within the Republican Party tell Sunshine State News that Ryan Anderson, state committeeman for the Broward GOP, is also a Paul supporter, as are others elected to local party offices across the Sunshine State.

Their gains are the fruit of a months-long stealth campaign that activists say is intended to return the Republican Party to its traditional small-government roots.

Nelson Diaz, an attorney and lobbyist who has been heavily involved with the campaigns of several Republican heavyweights since the 1990s (including now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio), beat out longtime grassroots activist and political consultant Emiliano Antunez for the position of county party chairman.

Diaz was reportedly the favored candidate of party leadership; Antunez supported Paul’s candidacy in 2008 and 2012, and was the favorite of the Paul supporters.

Antunez reportedly lost by only two votes.

Sources from within the Miami-Dade GOP told Sunshine State News that all but one of the state representatives, and two of the three state senators representing Miami-Dade County were present to cast their votes for the REC’s board of directors. The absent legislators were reportedly Rep. Michael Bileca of West Miami and Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami.

County REC elections are a mystery to most voters, perhaps even most registered Republicans. But they are important for the impact they have on setting the future agenda of the party at the county and state levels.

Every county’s Republican Party is divided up into districts or precincts, and each district/precinct is represented by up to four elected party officials: two district committeeman and two district committeewomen. In addition, each county has two countywide elected officers: a state committeeman and a state committeewoman. These positions are all filled during the presidential primary election.

Each district and state committee person – and every representative and senator representing the county in the Florida Legislature -- is eligible to vote for a county party’s board of directors, which is made up of five officers: a chairman, a vice chairman, two secretaries, and a treasurer.

The state committee persons, district/precinct committee persons, and the county party board of directors all make up a county’s Republican Executive Committee. The chairman and the two state committee persons of all the state’s county REPs are eligible to elect the leadership of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF).

The Miami-Dade GOP is divided into 40 districts, for a potential committee membership of up to 162 persons (160 district committee persons and two state committee persons), though sources tell Sunshine State News about 20 percent of those seats are vacant, either because no one ran for them or those elected to them were subsequently disqualified on any number of procedural technicalities

State Rep. Manny Diaz of Hialeah and activist Liliana Ros, who is often referred to as the “Godmother of the Miami-Dade GOP,” are the county REC’s two state committee persons. Neither is a Paul supporter.

Though Manny Roman -- a district committeeman whose term expired Dec. 1, and who ran the Miami-Dade component of the Texas congressman’s presidential campaign in Florida -- estimates that anywhere between 48 and 51 of the new district committee persons are hard-core Paul supporters, he says only about 42 showed up to vote Tuesday. Roman told the News that so-called “liberty candidates” ran for each of the five board positions, winning only two of them.

“This is bigger than Ron Paul,” Roman tells the News. “We supported him because we thought he was the only candidate with real ideas to solve the problems we had, but this movement has now grown larger than him.”

Roman, a 26 year-old financial analyst, grew up in a Democratic-leaning household; he supported then-Sen. Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and even contributed to it financially before his conversion to the Republican Party’s limited government, free-market principles in 2010.

“I’m young, I’m Hispanic, and I’m a former Democrat,” Roman tells the News. “I’m just the kind of person everyone says the Republican Party has to appeal to.”

Roman is quick to insist that he and his like-minded colleagues in the party do not see themselves as being at war with the GOP’s establishment mainstream, and says their efforts are all about one thing: party unity.

“This is about bringing the Republican Party back to its roots,” Roman tells the News. “We believe in free markets, the Constitution, and individual rights. Those are all things that are talked about in the Republican Party platform. We’re all part of the same party. I think we could work together to promote the beliefs that we all share.”

Antunez, shortly after the vote that elected Diaz as Miami-Dade GOP chairman, echoed those same sentiments. While admitting that some supporters of the ideologically eccentric Paul are fringe extremists, he says most of them are harking back to the ideas of famous Republican forebears like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

"As a party we really have to expand our tent; not to include socialists or liberals, but to include conservatives and libertarian-leaners,” he told the News. “We should not be chasing those people away, and we should be having an adult conversation within our party and seeing where we go, especially after this last election. We need to have a message that’s inclusive, not exclusive.”

Antunez says he will continue working within the party to make sure it runs effective grassroots campaigns for the 2014 midterms and the 2016 elections. He says if party leaders better avail themselves of 21st century technology the way the Democrats did, and stick to a consistent message, he believes they can take back both the White House and the Senate.

Roman certainly hopes so.

“As a young person," he said, "I have hope that the Republican Party is the best vehicle for bringing about liberty and prosperity."

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (954) 235-9116

Comments (10)

10:05PM JAN 6TH 2013
All across the country, state Republican Parties are losing their control over the state apparatus, unless they use strong-arm tactics. Rubio is a political hack, groomed by establishment forces to be the GOP's version of Barack Obama (IMHO)- using that old Bush militarism and social conservatism. Very few conservative activists even rally around this BS anymore, but it is important that the Republican remain very similar to the Democrat Party, the only differences being on foreign policy rhetoric (Obama is just as violent/clandestine) and on issues of individual morality.

Thus, the parties are not to debate core functions of government or the principles upon which DC is operated. This was a plan by the elitist technocrat-types, from Aldous Huxley to Carol Quigley. And the MSM brutally enforces politically correct opinion. Thus, the nation is broke and at the hands of psychopathic authoritarians for the foreseeable future. Happy 2013
10:49AM DEC 22ND 2012
Although the Miami-Dade GOP might have made a step in the right direction with so many Ron Paul supporters now getting in place, I still feel the corrupt, big government-loving GOP Establishment will never be reformed & that the GOP is non-reformable. The small government-loving Republicans that want their Constitutional freedoms & legal rights back need to move en mass to a fiscally conservative 3rd Party. The problem I have with the Libertarian Party is it's pro-abortion. The best Party to go to would be the Constitution Party... or simply start a conservative new Party. Sadly, the USA will collapse financially before the Republican Party dies & is replaced with something better.
Alex Vidal
3:59PM DEC 21ST 2012
"I have hope that the Republican Party is the best vehicle for bringing about liberty and prosperity."

...How has that been working out so far?

The Republican establishment is a dying dinosaur that has never actually protected the rights it's claimed to stand for.

Please consider putting your energy towards the Libertarian Party, the only political party that stands for economic AND social freedoms... the only party whose platform protects ALL liberties for ALL people. The only true "minimum government, maximum freedom" party.

The Miami liberty movement is taking shape here: LPmiamidade.org
3:20PM DEC 21ST 2012
Austrian Economic thinkers have correctly identified and predicted every downturn, recession, and depression in the United States, including the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The only people readily equipt with the concept of economics are Ron Paul, Libertarians, and Ron Paul supporters. Miami would have seen a great change for goodness if Emiliano had won the Chairmanship.

Instead, Nelson Diaz, a Lobbyist who donated thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party, and supported current Chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Miami. We will see no change in Miami, because people are generally afraid to see Libertarian Principles make its way back into the Republican Party.

Oh, and if all of our Supporters had shown up to vote, everything we did wouldn't have been for not.
3:10PM DEC 21ST 2012
that's probably because it was rigged...
Bert McCraw
5:30AM DEC 21ST 2012
The concept of limited constitutional government and the personal responsibility and freedom that come along with it is what this country needs. All too often our federal government is abusing our rights and destroying our economy. The failure of this is apparent, look around you. On each end of the political spectrum there exists a perceived moral authority where tyranny finds its seed, Ron Paul supporters are the germination of Freedom, as it was intended by the yet unrealized ideals enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
Wake up Sheeple
12:46AM DEC 21ST 2012
Ron Paul is a racist and a failure as a politician.
iowa pam
8:30PM DEC 23RD 2012
Ron Paul is neither. Dr. Paul a failure?!? The awakening that is happening in this country today is directly credited to Ron Paul's message. The brush fires are burning.
Ron Paul may very well have saved this Republic. He may not live long enough to see it, but it will be saved. We The People have come to take our country back. To Liberty!
Preston Hill
10:51PM DEC 20TH 2012
Ron Paul supporters are the most intelligent, capable, and involved voting bloc in America today.
Charlie Peters
2:32AM DEC 20TH 2012
Audit the fed, support HR 459 Paul & S 202 Paul

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