AUGUSTA — In a major upset, Ron Paul supporters narrowly won the chairmanship of the Maine Republican Convention today.

Paul supporter Brent Tweed edged Charles Cragin 1,118 to 1,114 in a very close vote.

The vote came after Paul supporters elected Ron Morrell secretary. Morrell got 1,119 votes out of 2,204 to be elected convention secretary.

Paul supporters are here in large numbers, with more than 500 having attended an organizational meeting last night and even more here today, said Matthew McDonald, a Waldo delegate and Paul supporter.

Those who support Paul are hoping to get at least 13 delegates, which would be a majority of those chosen for the national convention.

The chairman controls the meeting, including who can speak and what happens to procedural motions that are made. Because of that, the chairman can have a huge impact on the outcome of the convention and who is elected as delegates.

The upset is also a blow to Mitt Romney’s campaign, which shows he has yet to be fully embraced by Maine Republicans.

Today’s convention is already more than several hours behind schedule, having started late due to the large number of attendees. The delay was compounded by procedural challenges by Romney supporters to Tweed’s victory.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins told convention-goers this afternoon that Republican leadership has made a big difference in Augusta.

“Thanks to Republican leadership, Maine now has a Turnpike Authority and a Housing Authority that are focused on serving the public, not on providing luxury travel, magic shows, and back rubs to their administrators,” she said.

“The message is clear: When the taxpayers are picking up the tab, there’s no such thing as a free gift card.”

Collins also added, however, that it’ll take a “phenomenal” effort to keep Maine Republican in the November election.

For frequent updates on the convention throughout the day, check out our Capitol Ticker blog.

 

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Republicans from across the state are filing in to the Maine Republican Party State Convention in Augusta this morning, with a total of about 3,000 delegates expected to attend.

About 400 Ron Paul supporters were estimated to attend today with plans to elect officers to run the convention. But it’s not easy to tell who is supporting which candidate as the attendees enter the building.

Although lines are long, check-in for delegates appears to be going smoothly. With the color guard standing in the back of the civic center ready to kick off the convention, hundreds stood in a long line outside waiting to get in.

The schedule calls for a platform vote this morning, election of delegates to the national convention and speeches by the four men running for the state’s two Congressional seats. Tonight, Scott Romney, brother of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.

Sunday’s schedule includes speeches by Gov. Paul LePage, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and the party’s six candidates running for U.S. Senate.