Ron Paul remains the longest of long shots to win the Republican presidential nomination, but his Minnesota supporters aren’t going quietly.

Over the weekend, they captured six of a dozen GOP national convention delegates elected at congressional district meetings. The rebellion has left local party officials crying foul, even as state leaders downplay the importance of the unexpected result.

“They’ll be national delegates, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t change anything because John McCain is going to be our nominee,” said party spokesman Mark Drake.

But Marianne Stebbins, who has headed the Texas congressman’s Minnesota campaign for several months, called the victories a tactical triumph designed to bring Paul’s libertarian message to the broadest possible audience.

“If we get enough delegates,” she said, “we’ll be able to get [Paul] speaking time at the convention.”

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