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At the RNC, a Michigan delegate questions if the Republican Party has room for Ron Paul supporters

Steve Carmody/ Michigan Radio

More than 100 thousand people voted for Ron Paul in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary in February.    But after what happened yesterday at the Republican National Convention, it appears some of them may not be voting Republican in November.

When it came time for Mitt Romney’s native state of Michigan to announce its vote during Tuesday’s roll call, the honor fell to the candidate’s brother Scott.

“24 VOTES FOR MITT ROMNEY," shouted a visibly moved Scott Romney shouted.   Then in a quieter voice Scott Romney said, "Four votes for Ron Paul." 

Of course, Mitt Romney secured the Republican presidential nomination months ago, after getting more than enough delegates in primaries and caucuses.

But Ron Paul supporters from Michigan and other states were furious over party rules changes that would make it harder for candidates like Paul in the future.   Standing and shouting "POINT OF ORDER!", they tried, but failed to stop the rules changes from being approved.

Joe Jurecki is a Michigan delegate and a supporter of the Texas Congressman.  

"They’re going to shove Mitt Romney down our throat…without a vote here," Jurecki said.   "Mitt Romney’s going to lose. The Ron Paul people aren’t going to vote for him. Even if it’s only a three percent or ten percent bloc, that’s going to be enough to take care of this election.”

Saul Anuzis is a former Michigan Republican Party chairman and currently a national GOP committee man.

He says Ron Paul supporters fall into two groups: Those who want to be part of the Republican Party and Libertarians who want to change it.

“Those who want to affect the (Republican) Party from within, we’re all for them.  I welcome them with open arms.  Those who want to overthrow it and throw everyone else out, that’s where the problem becomes," says Anuzis, "We welcome those who want to be Republicans.   And those that want to support Mitt Romney are the ones we want to be in the party.   If they don’t, that’s OK, that’s why we have multiple parties.”

That’s what Ron Paul supporter and Michigan Republican Party delegate Joe Jurecki is thinking.

Standing on the floor of the Republican National Convention, Jurecki says it might be time for a third party.

“This is a grassroots effort. It’s not about electing Ron Paul. We’re Ron Paul people because he knows how to deliver the message and how to implement the message," Jurecki says,  "But there are other candidates that are worthy of our votes. And the ones that aren’t worthy of our votes, just because they’re not going to get our vote.”

It’s unclear if their disappointment will keep Ron Paul’s Michigan supporters from voting Republican in November.   But if enough of them sit it out, it could make it difficult for Mitt Romney to swing Michigan to the Republican side.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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