SPARKS — It was all about the Red strappy bags, tie-dye shirts, buttons and Republicans scurrying through the floor of the Rose Ballroom area Friday of John Ascuaga’s Nugget chattering excitedly about the 2012 election season.
The first day of the 2012 Nevada State Republican Convention ignited a flurry of energy with during the day when committees met and procedure workshops were held.
A few hundred attendees showed up Friday to the first day of the event, said national RNC spokesman Darren Little.
“I think we’re very hopeful in the end we’re going to have a smooth convention,” Little said. “Everybody’s going to come together and unite to beat (President) Barack Obama.”
During the several committee meetings, platforms were constructed, parliamentary procedures were discussed, resolutions were made, convention rules were pounded out, by-laws were mulled over and credential were worked on.
While meetings were held in the various rooms sectioned inside the Rose Ballroom, attendees chatted about current issues of the day and booths sold buttons, hats, shirts, bumper stickers and other knick-knacks emblazoned with Mitt Romney’s name, face and message. The colors of red, white and blue painted the room.
A VIP Reception was held Friday night, followed by a Silver Stampede Dinner and Silent Auction.
The Washoe and rural counties caucuses were also held Friday.
Today promised to bring the biggest crowds — and some disappointment. It was announced Friday afternoon that Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was to give opening remarks to the crowd after 9 a.m., would be a no-show.
A senior aide says Sandoval was never asked to speak by party officials. Little said Sandoval was invited to attend a fundraising reception Friday night to speak, but a scheduling conflict prevented the governor from speaking at today’s event.
“There was a scheduling conflict, that’s why I didn’t work out,” Little said.
The governor will be in southern Nevada, where he will speak at an annual veterans’ memorial and dedication ceremony at Red Rock Conservation Area outside Las Vegas.
Josh Romney, the son of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, will speak address the convention instead at around 10 a.m.
Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in November.
Nevada Republicans this weekend will select delegates to represent the Silver State in August at the GOP national convention in Tampa, Fla.
Among other matters, Nevada Republicans will nominate and elect a national committeewoman and committeeman today.
Today’s convention starts at 9 a.m. at the Sparks Nugget. At 1:45 to 3:30 p.m., a speech by Congressman Ron Paul is expected to take place.
Paul’s candidacy has stirred controversy nationally lately, relating to Nevada’s convention outcome.
The Nevada chairman of Paul’s presidential campaign took exception to a Republican National Committee lawyer who suggested Nevada’s presence at the national convention could be jeopardized if Paul supporters swamp the state delegate contingent.
Carl Bunce called the RNC opinion “creative writing” and maintained Paul supporters will abide by rules that first-round balloting at the national convention be apportioned based on the outcome of the Nevada caucuses. Mitt Romney won that contest with 50 percent of the vote.
In a letter to state GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, RNC lawyer John R. Phillippe Jr. said it would be “highly likely” Nevada’s 28 delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla., could be jeopardized if Paul supporters take slots that should go to Romney, the presumptive nominee.
The letter, first reported by the Las Vegas Sun, also said an “authorized representative of the presidential campaign” should be allowed to confirm whether or not a delegate “is an actual supporter” of a particular candidate.
Bunce countered that rules adopted by the state party last fall and forwarded to the RNC say that delegates are elected at the state convention, but the allotment of delegates to particular candidates happens afterward.
“If Romney’s the guy, what are they worried about?” he said. “It’s obvious to those of us in the Ron Paul campaign ... Romney did not have the delegates or the force to get his delegates to the national convention.”
Paul supporters have been taking control of local and state Republican parties across the nation, a move designed to influence platforms and allow them to vote for Paul should the national convention proceed to an unlikely second round of balloting.
Bunce predicted the 50 percent to 60 percent of state convention attendees will be Paul backers.
“It’s going to be a Ron Paul rally, that’s what it’s going to be,” he said, adding, “It will be a lawyer fest, probably.”
Paul came in third in Nevada’s caucuses. But with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum now out of the presidential primary race, Romney is expected to be allotted 20 Nevada delegates. Paul would get eight.
Delegates are to return to the Rose Ballroom at 3:30 p.m. after Paul’s speech for the election of an At-Large National Delegates and Alternatives, election of Presidential Electors, Resolutions of Committee report, Platform Committee report, and other business.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.