AUBURN — A Maine tea party leader who garnered national attention has been removed from his position as chairman of a local Republican Party committee, according to social media.
Posts on a Facebook page set up in support of Pete Harring — an iconic leader of Maine's tea party movement and a prominent figure in the protests that Maine GOP delegates staged during the party's national convention — say he was removed from his chairmanship of the city of Auburn's Republican Party Committee.
Known as "Pete the Carpenter" to his supporters, Harring was featured in news outlets around the country with a clothespin on his nose as he protested an RNC decision to remove half of Maine's convention delegates.
The delegates — supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas — were removed after a Maine national committeewoman challenged their election at the Maine Republican Party's convention in May.
The Facebook posts issued Tuesday and Wednesday read in part, "I was informed this morning by Robert Sevigny that the Executive Committee voted to remove me as chair. No further explanation was provided."
Harring's removal Tuesday from his position locally is more evidence that Maine's GOP is unraveling, said Andrew Ian Dodge, a conservative political observer and independent candidate in Maine's U.S. Senate race.
"It's not very good for the party to be in a civil war right before the election, surely," Dodge said.
Dodge, also a member of Maine's tea party movement, said he too was "culled" from the Maine GOP.
He said mainstream Republicans were retaliating against everyone who supported anyone other than Romney.
"It's not just Ron Paul guys," Dodge said. "It's anybody who isn't the mainstream and part of the establishment."
Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster on Wednesday insisted the party was on solid ground. Webster said the story that the party was broken is one that's being fabricated by Democratic operatives and opponents. "Democrats would like to think that, but it isn't the case," he said.
"For those people who came in (to the party) for Ron Paul who are Republicans, most of them have stayed," Webster said. "Some of them were not Republicans; some were Democrats who registered just for Ron Paul and some were Libertarians. If you are Libertarian you are not a Republican and if you are Democrat, you are not a Republican."
One local Republican Party member, Chris Dixon of Lewiston, said he thinks the removal of Harring was not justified. At a minimum, he said, Harring should have been present for the vote taken locally.
Dixon said several prominent local Republicans were calling for Harring's resignation on various social media outlets following comments he made during the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Harring said then he was going to stand his ground and stand by his principles, Dixon said, "and if that meant it cost us the majority (in Maine's Legislature), then so be it."
Dixon also said that if there was just cause to remove Harring, party members should share that information. He also said it highlights internal divisions that will hurt the party.
"If there's an issue with Pete, that's fine," Dixon said. "But I don't see it as something urgent enough that it needs to be handled during an important election cycle. If the Republican Party wants to win in the upcoming elections, then they need to put off all these internal disputes. I fear it could really cost us the November elections."
Attempts to reach Harring on Wednesday were unsuccessful.