Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's forces are making more gains in delegate-selection contests around the country as they prepare for the GOP national convention in Tampa this summer.
What's becoming clear is that even though Paul has virtually no chance to overtake frontrunner Mitt Romney and supplant him as the Republican nominee, he will be a force to be reckoned with at the convention. Paul and his supporters could make inroads in placing libertarian planks in the platform and could embarrass Romney in a number of ways, such as shutting out some of his delegates.
That's what happened in Massachusetts over the weekend. Paul forces out-muscled Romney supporters at caucuses around the state and displaced several Romney delegates with Paul backers, according to media reports. It wasn't clear how many Romney delegates had been excluded, but they apparently included former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. Most of the state's delegates still pledged to support Romney on the first ballot, but Paul's surge over the weekend served notice that, even in the state where he was governor, Romney might have some trouble holding onto his dominant position as Paul's forces increase their pressure.
It was a similar story at Alaska's nominating caucus last weekend. A strong and raucus contingent of Paul backers made headway in gaining more delegates for Paul than expected as they pursued their goal of taking over the state party.
The Paul supporters succeeded in winning the state party chairmanship for one of their own, Russ Millette, but failed in their effort to change party rules and capture all 24 state delegates to the national convention for Paul.
It appears that Alaska will send only six Paul delegates to Tampa. He finished third in the popular vote at the state-wide caucuses in March, behind Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has since dropped out of the GOP race.
Paul has not won the popular vote in any state, but continues to pick up delegates at the grassroots level by out-maneuvering rivals in the often complex delegate-selection process.