Those in the YouTube crowd may have seen the clip of supporters of fringe Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (dubbed "Paultards" by Wonkette) inundating a recent San Francisco Republican Alliance straw poll. The unexpected cavalcade of Paul people led organizer Gail Neira to call the whole thing off.
While observing outraged Paul advocates roaring "You're a disgrace!" at a flustered woman wearing a Santa hat is its own special kind of funny, that was far from the only hoot. The real joke was that the Paul people wasted their outrage lambasting Neira as a representative of the dishonorable party establishment. You see, the Republican Alliance isn't even recognized by the Republican Party as an affiliated organization. That probably comes as news to a lot of Paulsters, who have made stacking local party straw polls a specialty. A bulletin on the Ron Paul Meetup Web site before the event implored them to "Come to this important San Francisco GOP Straw Poll and VOTE!"
"We had the feeling that this was a Republican Party event and, as Republicans, we were welcome," said Paul supporter Aaron Voisine of Santa Clara — who was apparently wrong on both counts.
While Neira is a member of San Francisco's GOP Central Committee, she has what can charitably be described as a combative relationship with her counterparts. In fact, in March she was censured by her colleagues for criticizing another committee member.
"They don't like me," she said of her fellow central committee members. "They really don't like me. I'll admit that."
Several committee members contacted by SF Weekly accused Neira of consistently attempting to "hijack" other Republican groups and exclude candidates not of her liking from political forums. So for Paul supporters to, in essence, hijack her event — well, you can see the irony. "Oh, that is payback," chortled Leo Lacayo, vice chairman of communications for the county central committee.
Neira says being accused of hijacking events is the kind of response Republicans have when "you're a woman who's not willing to stay in a more submissive, subordinate role."
Four committee members say they were shocked when Neira announced at the last meeting that she wouldn't be inviting supporters of candidates she didn't like to her private Dec. 4 straw poll. Neira's rationale: It's her shindig and she'll invite whom she wants. And she didn't want Rudy Giuliani's crowd. "I resent any man of his stature who has disrespect for women," she sniffs. "I can invite whomever I please. It's my money and my party."