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Tension Boils Over for Nevada Delegates Supporting Ron Paul

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
A Ron Paul supporter in the Nevada delegation tries to block a Mitt Romney sign while the state's vote is read at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

"This is nothing new. There's always been different factions of Republicans," Cafferata said. "If they really want to get rid of Barack Obama, you pull together and get it done. Once we get past this convention, then people will unite."

That message was reiterated Monday by several other establishment Republicans.

"We agree on far more things than we disagree on, and I believe these people all realize that the cause is bigger than any one policy or any one person," said Krolicki, a close friend of Romney. "And they will rally and put their wonderful energy into making sure Nevada goes for the Romney/Ryan ticket on Nov. 6."

That didn't seem likely shortly after the roll call vote, when James Ayala, a Paul delegate slated to vote for Romney, confronted List on the convention floor. Ayala had expressed frustration in an interview with Roll Call on Monday for being shut out of the delegation in 2008, when Paul supporters felt they had an opportunity to win more delegates at the state party convention than Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). That event was cut short before all the votes could be counted.

"This is a fraud. This is a sham. This is a joke," Ayala yelled Tuesday night at anyone within earshot. Then, standing face to face, List said the Paul supporters were breaking party rules, and Ayala called the former governor an "oath breaker."

In an interview Monday, List said he hoped they could avoid all of this fuss.

"They would just embarrass themselves," List said. "This is a Romney convention, and we need to send that message across the land."

The splintering has also taken place within the state party, which has had trouble raising money this year. The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee set up their own state party operation called Team Nevada, which several sources said is more organized than the official state party has been for some time.

Beyond that, there is a north-south friction between the local parties in Clark and Washoe counties. The Clark County GOP has called on Washoe County GOP Chairman Dave Buell to resign. In concert with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Washoe party filed this year as a federal committee, allowing the NRSC to transfer money to the state and circumvent the state party.

"For people who are unsure of the state party, it gives them another outlet in the county party to be able to bring funds into Nevada to help win races," Buell said.

Nevada will play a crucial role in determining the next president and control of the Senate. Romney and President Barack Obama are expected to run close in the Silver State, while Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) are running in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.

For now, the delegation has at least two more days together before it returns home. Delegates in states such as Louisiana and Rhode Island, who sit adjacent to Nevada on the convention floor, were probably left wondering Tuesday night what the conversations over Wednesday morning's eggs and bacon would be like.

"What are you going to do - they're human beings, too," said Smith, who is attending her last convention. "You still have to live with people you disagree with."

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