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Rogue Texas elector explains decision to back Ron Paul

Texas elector Bill Greene added one final twist to a wild presidential race when he voted for former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, on Dec. 19.

Electoral College members pose in front of the Capitol Christmas tree after completing their business at the Texas Capitol on Dec. 19, 2016.

When Texas' 38 electors gathered Dec. 19 to cement Donald Trump's victory, everybody expected one of them, Chris Suprun, to defect. Weeks earlier, the Dallas paramedic announced in a New York Times op-ed that he would oppose Trump, and on the morning of the vote, he revealed he would instead cast his ballot for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

What was less expected was that there would be a second "faithless elector" who would buck the popular vote in Texas, where Trump easily beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Bill Greene, a political science professor at South Texas College, instead voted for former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, adding one final twist to a wild presidential race in Texas and across the country.

Greene, who has kept a low profile since the vote, explained his decision Monday, telling The Texas Tribune he had wanted to "bring the process back into the classroom" and affirm the founders' view that the Electoral College should not necessarily be a rubber stamp for the popular vote. 

"I take very seriously the oath of office that we had to take and what the framers of the Constitution, what the founders, wanted electors to do ... to basically come up with their idea for who would be the best person in the entire United States to be the president," Greene said in a phone interview. "I take the job very seriously, and I did. I felt Ron Paul was the best person in the United States to be president, and that’s who I voted for." 

Greene has a history with Paul, a libertarian icon who has had multiple tenures in Congress stretching back to the 1970s. Greene said he worked on all three of Paul's presidential campaigns, dating back to his first bid for the White House as the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988. 

While much speculation surrounding faithless electors this year centered on their opposition to Trump, Greene said he made his decision "more independent" of the controversial nominee. Greene noted that when he won the elector slot at the Texas GOP convention in May, it was not even entirely clear whether Trump would be the Republican Party's nominee. (Trump was the presumptive standard-bearer at the time.)

Unlike Suprun — who became a well-known Trump critic weeks before the vote — Greene said he "had no desire for publicity or anything like that in advance." He immediately went on vacation for a week after the vote then fell ill when he came home. He said Monday he was just catching up on emails and calls — which electors were deluged with in the lead-up to the vote, many begging them to vote against Trump. (For the record, Greene said he was "not swayed by the 80-100,000 emails I received.")

Greene said the "vast majority" of feedback he has gotten since the vote has been positive. Top Texas Republicans, however, have taken a different view, using the defections by Suprun and Greene to push for legislation that would require electors to vote in accordance with statewide popular vote. That's currently the rule in 29 other states. 

Greene made clear he is not a fan of so-called "elector-binding" laws. 

"God forbid they actually do what the Constitution bounds them to do," Greene sarcastically said of electors. The elector-binding bills, he added, are "completely unconstitutional legislation, and my hope is that it does go into the courts." 

Among Paul loyalists — a famously diehard bunch — Greene has already become something of a folk hero. "I’ve got free beer wherever I go for the rest of my life," Greene said with a chuckle.

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Politics 2016 elections