Romney Wins Flathead GOP Caucus, State

By Beacon Staff

While supporters of Ron Paul dominated the Flathead County Republican caucus with signs, cheering and supporters, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ultimately emerged the winner, taking 36 of the 75 votes cast. Paul won 25 of the votes. While Sen. John McCain may be a frontrunner elsewhere in the U.S., in the Flathead he came in a distant third with nine votes, and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had five votes.

Sen. Greg Barkus of Kalispell said he was not surprised that the results, both in the Flathead and the rest of Montana favored Romney. Sen. Verdell Jackson, also of Kalispell, said he received about 52 calls this week from constituents, and nearly 70 percent of those calls urged him to vote for Romney. Jackson added that he voted for Romney because he thinks he is the best suited to guide the economy out of its current downturn.

After the results were announced, a handful of young Paul supporters stood sullenly around a TV, watching nationwide results on Fox News. “We expected more,” said Blake Johnson of the Flathead Valley Community College Republicans, adding that he expected Paul supporters to continue to push through the summer GOP convention. “It’s not over until the fat elephant sings.”

9:11 pm
Official results are in for the Flathead County Republican caucus, out of 75 voters:

Mitt Romney 36

Ron Paul 25

John McCain 9

Mike Huckabee 5

Alan Keyes 0

8:20 pm
Supporters of Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and John McCain took to the stage at the Flathead GOP caucus to urge votes for their candidate.

Scott Reichner, a candidate for House District 9, and three others stumped for Romney.

“Gov. Romney believes we can build a stronger America by taking Washington apart and putting it back together on conservative principles,” Reichner said. “We’ve got to start acting like Republicans.”

Richard Griffin spoke in support of Huckabee.

“He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he came up the hard way like the rest of us,” Griffin said. “He represented a state and worked with a state agriculturally based, like Montana.”

Dean Jellison, speaking support of McCain, sought to refute many of the arguments against the Arizona senator’s conservative credentials, emphasizing that McCain repeatedly voted for what he believed to be right.

Several speakers are currently stumping for Ron Paul.
7:28 pm
Ron Paul spoke via conference call to Montana Republicans for about ten minutes, harshly criticizing America’s current foreign and economic policy. Paul did not address issues specific to the West, but stuck to his stump speech and thanked his young supporters specifically.

“The young people have rallied tremendously to this campaign,” Paul said, “because the young people know they’re getting a bum rap.”

Speakers will begin shortly for the other candidates.

6:45 pm
Kalispell’s Outlaw Inn is filling up as Republicans gather to cast Flathead County’s 91 votes in tonight’s Republican caucus. As has been the case for months in the Flathead, supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul are making their voices heard, with large signs, chanting, someone a loudspeaker in the parking lot urging support, TV monitors showing Ron Paul in the hallways and multiple volunteers handing out Ron Paul stickers.

While Paul supporters are clearly the most visible, it remains to be seen if another candidate’s supporters will speak louder when it counts: with their votes.

Speeches by supporters of various candidates begins at 7 p.m. Stay tuned to the Beacon for updates as the night goes on.

Related: Romney Wins Montana

Related: Full Statewide Results