Nebraska Republicans will select delegates on Saturday to send to the national Republican convention, a process that could amount to Ron Paul's last stand as a presidential candidate.
If Paul wins a plurality of delegates in Nebraska this weekend, his name will be put forth as a nominee versus Mitt Romney in Tampa. If his team can't secure enough delegates on Saturday, his longshot bid for the Republican presidential nomination is formally dead.
Nebraska is the last state to hold a convention and its 32 delegates are not required to match the May 15 “beauty contest” primary, where presumptive nominee Mitt Romney won 70 percent of the vote. However, prospective delegates must indicate their presidential preference and are bound to vote for that candidate for the first two ballots at the August Republican National Convention.
According to RNC Rule 40, Paul needs a plurality of delegates from five states for his name to be put forth for nomination at the convention. The Texas Congressman has won a majority of state delegations in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Louisiana. If he is nominated, Paul will be allotted fifteen minutes to deliver a speech at the convention before the first round of balloting.
Local reports say both Romney and Paul supporters have been “burning up the phone lines” making calls to delegates to assess who they’re voting for before the state convention in Grand Island.
Support for Paul could embarrass Governor Dave Heineman, who was the first Republican governor to endorse Romney.
"I welcome the Tea Party and Ron Paul supporters," Heineman said. "That's great for our party. But it's time to be good sports and get behind Governor Romney.”
When Republicans arrive at the Riverside Golf Club for the convention they will be met with additional security, hired by the state party in anticipation of a Paul insurgency.
“It’s been communicated to us from other RNC members from around the country to watch for specific things,” Jordan McGrain, executive director of the state Republican Party, told NBC News.
“Their experience has been instructive to us. We’ve received correspondence from those who attended the Nevada and Louisiana state conventions where they had significant disturbances and problems. It arose from not everyone being on the same page and we have the benefit of that hindsight.”
Paul supporters have been blamed for picking arcane rule fights, which dragged out the state convention in Nevada and led to a brawl in Louisiana.
The 76-year-old congressman stopped actively campaigning in May, urging supporters to remain involved in politics to “become delegates, win office, and take leadership positions” and has focused resources on state conventions.
The date of Nebraska’s GOP state convention has not been lost on some Paul supporters, who point out July 14 is Bastille Day – “Vive la Revolution!” It’s up to Nebraska Republicans to determine whether Ron Paul’s Revolution will be loudly heard at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in August.