Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks to supporters...

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks to supporters during an election night really in Manchester, N.H. (Jan. 10, 2012) Credit: AP

Rep.Ron Paul (R-Texas) has his fans among us. They helped him reach second place in last week's New Hampshire GOP primary, behind Mitt Romney. Paul's presidential candidacy attracts and depends on volunteers like Long Island's Gigi Bowman.

Bowman, a real estate agent, and her husband, Kenneth Bowman, a telecommunications company employee, organized a big party for Paul in New Hampshire last week, where he drew 23 percent of the votes. She says the event drew 285 people. The Bowmans plan another Paul gathering, in Nevada, for its Feb. 4 caucuses.

"He stands for individual liberties, as the most important thing, and constitutional government, the free market and a noninterventionist foreign policy," said Gigi Bowman, who also supported Paul in 2008. "Republicans seem to be getting heavily into the war thing," she said. "Democrats promised to end the wars but [President Barack] Obama seems to be continuing the [George W.] Bush policies."

Bowman, a Huntington resident, said she first found her way to the Paul cause after a family tragedy in 2003 sparked her concern about "Big Pharma," as she put it. "Ron Paul was the only candidate talking about health freedom, food freedom and freedom from forced vaccinations," she said. She also hails Paul's intent to abolish the U.S. Department of Education and says he could fix the nation's economic troubles.

Republican Party leaders on Long Island who back front-runner Romney include Nassau Chairman Joseph Mondello and Suffolk Chairman John Jay LaValle. They expect him to win the nomination, of course, and support his drive for New York delegates to be decided in this state's primary on April 24.

ON VIOLENCE: Every Martin Luther King Day, the Rev. Al Sharpton hosts a public policy forum that draws televised coverage and visits from numerous elected officials to Harlem. Today, as announced by Sharpton's National Action Network, the speeches involve how government and communities respond "in the wake of so many murders in New York City related to gun violence."

N.Y. TOEHOLD: Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who ran a close second to Romney in the Iowa caucuses, isn't devoid of fans in New York State. Professor Kevin Hardwick of Canisius College in Buffalo, an Erie County legislator, says Santorum's social, fiscal and national-defense stances make him "the closest to the ideal conservative" of all the candidates.

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access