Rick Santorum sweeps three non-binding GOP presidential contests

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania won three Republican Party (GOP) presidential contests on Tuesday, but received no delegates. Though the races were non-binding, some analysts see in them a vulnerability for front-runner Mitt Romney, and a possible revitalization of the Santorum campaign.

Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado each held nominating contests. These elections had no delegates attached because GOP rules stipulate that no state other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, may choose delegates before the first Tuesday in March. Turn-out was low in each of the contests.

Santorum campaigns in January.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

In the Missouri primary, Santorum received over 55 percent of the vote, thirty points ahead of second place finisher Romney. Texas congressman Ron Paul came in third with twelve percent. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich was not on the ballot, as he did not file for inclusion in that primary.

In Minnesota, Santorum won 45 percent of the vote, edging second place Paul, who received 27 percent. Romney finished third with 17 percent, followed by Gingrich with eleven. Santorum spent a large amount of time campaigning in the state this past week. On election night, Paul chose to be in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

Cquote1.svg I don’t think this was as much an endorsement of Rick Santorum as it was another wakeup call for Governor Romney ... Cquote2.svg

—Richard Wadhams, Colorado GOP chairman

In Colorado, Santorum finished with 40 percent, besting Romney by five percent, with 13 percent for Gingrich and twelve for Paul. Former Colorado GOP chairman Richard Wadhams commented, "I don’t think this was as much an endorsement of Rick Santorum as it was another wakeup call for Governor Romney that he needs to be more specific about why he wants to be president, beyond that he’s a successful businessman".

In his victory speech from Colorado, Santorum proclaimed "Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama...I don’t stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama." Afterwards, he told CNN that his campaign has "momentum" and that he raised $250,000 online on Tuesday.

Cquote1.svg ... we’ll keep on campaigning down the road, but I expect to become our nominee ... Cquote2.svg

Mitt Romney

In Denver, Romney addressed supporters, acknowledging "a good night for Rick Santorum", while maintaining "we’ll keep on campaigning down the road, but I expect to become our nominee".

Romney has won contests in New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada. According to former Republican strategist Dan Schnur, "He is still the front-runner, but his flaws are a lot more apparent after Tuesday night, and that raises the stakes for him over the next few primaries going forward."

The next contests will take place in Arizona and Michigan at the end of February. Romney is the favorite to win these states, though he was also favored to win in Minnesota and Colorado before Tuesday.


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