After years of quiet, relentless organizing, followers of libertarian-leaning GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul have exploded inside the Minnesota Republican Party, becoming its most potent army.
"This is one of the greatest states that I have witnessed, where I have seen the transition, where the enthusiasm's there," the grinning Texas congressman told hundreds of exuberant activists Saturday at the state party's convention in St. Cloud, where he won 12 of 13 open delegate spots to the GOP national convention in Tampa, Fla., in August. The 13th went to former presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann -- and only after a Paul supporter dropped out to let her have that spot.
In Minnesota, more than almost any other state, Paul forces have completed a historic party takeover. They proved their might Saturday, but also firmly established Minnesota as a remote GOP outpost nationally.
Now state GOP activists will march to the national convention firmly backing Paul rather than presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.