The Republican Party in Minnesota held its state convention this weekend, and the influence of Ron Paul was undeniable.
It was evident not so much in the endorsement of State Rep. Kurt Bills, a first-term legislator, Paul supporter and high school economics teacher, to challenge Sen. Amy Klobuchar, but in Saturday's election of delegates to the national Republican convention. Paul supporters claimed 12 of 13 at-large seats to the national convention, to go along with the 20 they collected in congressional district conventions. Thirty-two of the 40 delegates will be Paul supporters.
Paul's supporters are mostly young and new to party politics. They have a chance to influence state GOP politics for a long time to come. Will they lead the state party to a position of ultra-conservative irrelevance? Will they stick around long enough to make a difference?
Political parties evolve over time, and the Paul influence is part of the conservative movement that gained momentum with the rise of the tea party. How far toward the edge can the party go?