Drama in RNC election as Ron Paul supporter makes run for chairman

Some last minute drama has been injected into the race for chairman of the Republican National Committee as a national committeeman from the Ron Paul wing of the party is mounting a last minute effort to challenge Reince Priebus for chairman.

But as he tries to get support for his bid, Mark Willis of Maine is facing questions from other Republicans on the committee about whether he broke party rules and supported Paul as a write-in for president over GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election, The Daily Caller has learned.

The reason for these questions: Willis was actually listed on the 2012 general election ballot in Maine as a declared write-in running mate to Paul, the Texas libertarian.

Had he voted for himself and Paul over Romney, Willis could be removed from the committee, according to party rules. Republican Party rule 4(b) says, “The Republican National Committee shall have the power to declare vacant the seat of any member who refuses to support the Republican nominee for President of the United States or Vice President of the United States.”

But in an interview with The Daily Caller on Thursday, Willis strongly disputed that he supported Paul in the general election and said he had nothing to do with being listed as a write-in candidate on the ballot. He said he supported Romney.

“I had nothing to do with it,” Willis said by phone of his addition to the ballot. “I had no knowledge of it. No consent. I found out about it after the fact. After it had been done.”

Critics on the committee, however, remain skeptical, pointing out that Willis did not try to have his name removed. He also didn’t publicly denounce his addition to the ballot.

“When it was brought to my attention, I had to make a judgment call as to what is the right thing to do for the state of Maine,” Willis explained to TheDC. “And I made the judgment call to just not do anything, keep it quiet, don’t talk about it, don’t draw attention to it.”

The Daily Caller obtained an email sent to committee members on Wednesday night from California national committeeman Shawn Steel, who said he spoke to Willis but still was skeptical of his story.


Dear Colleague:


We all appreciate a good political race. Mark Willis, the newly elected Maine National Committeeman, recently announced he is running for RNC Chair. I take these RNC elections seriously. Without a President in the White House, our National Chairman becomes a dominant voice of our Party. We must have a seasoned leader ready for national politics.


I learned that Mark Willis was listed as an official and “declared” write-in candidate on the state of Maine’s 2012 general [September] election ballot – serving as Ron Paul’s Vice Presidential running mate – and standing against the Republican Presidential nominee and Vice-Presidential running mate. The following link will take you the State of Maine Secretary of State’s Office listing of declared write-in candidates for the November 2012 ballot. Mark Willis is the second name on the list, listed as Ron Paul’s running mate. In the “Date Filed” column it shows that the required forms were filed with the Maine Secretary of State on September 24, 2012 – almost a full month after the Republican National Convention where we officially nominated Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan.


By not supporting the Republican nominee, Mark could be in violation of Rule 4(b) of the Rules of the Republican Party, which is grounds for removal from the committee. This has got to cause a major dilemma for Mr. Willis. I took my concerns to Mark directly. He alleged that his name was put on the official state ballot without his permission. I suppose anything is possible, but that alone raises more questions.


I understand the ambition of a new Member wanting to run for a high RNC office. Moreover, debate is always valuable for the Membership. But given the strange Maine ballot experience, Mark may want to find another time to consider a run for the Party’s top position after he has more experience in national politics.


Shawn Steel


On Thursday, Willis, who said he’s spoken to Priebus and Steel about the issue, said those Republicans pushing this story have “got it wrong.”

“In the state of Maine, somebody could put your name down for president or VP without your permission,” he said. “The law is open on that.”