Romney Takes Wyoming, Now Has 422 Delegates


romneyWhile Rick Santorum easily won the Republican presidential caucuses in Kansas on Saturday, front-runner Mitt Romney was victorious in the Wyoming county caucuses and other balloting that extended his GOP delegate lead.

Mr. Santorum campaigned in Kansas on Wednesday and Friday, telling voters that his values and vision were a good match for this deep-red GOP stronghold. The former Pennsylvania senator already has notched wins in nearby Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa.

Mr. Santorum’s rivals for the GOP nomination largely bypassed campaigning in Kansas.

With all of the precincts reporting, the Associated Press reported Mr. Santorum had 51% of the Kansas vote. That compared with 21% for front-runner Mitt Romney, who didn’t visit the state, and 14% for Newt Gingrich, who canceled a scheduled trip to the state late last week to concentrate on Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi. Rep. Ron Paul, who also didn’t spend much time in the state, came in fourth with nearly 13% of the vote.

In Wyoming, Mr. Romney had 44% of the vote with all of the precincts reporting, the Associated Press reported. Mr. Santorum had 28%, while Mr. Paul had 12%, and Mr. Gingrich had less than 1%.

Mr. Santorum had made Kansas a priority this week, campaigning across the state and telling voters that he needed a win here. He said a victory in Kansas could provide momentum as the presidential nominating contest heads south next week. Mississippi and Alabama will hold contests Tuesday that could be pivotal, as Mr. Romney continues to build a commanding lead in the delegate count and Mr. Santorum argues that he still could win the nomination.

Mississippi and Alabama had been considered long shots for Mr. Romney, but new polling shows the Massachusetts governor making significant gains. A Romney win in either state would undercut the pitch advanced by Messrs. Santorum and Gingrich that Mr. Romney can’t win in the South.

Mr. Romney claimed two more victories early Saturday in the Pacific islands, winning contests and picking up all 18 delegates in the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Most of Kansas’s 40 delegates will go to Mr. Santorum under a formula that is partially proportional to the caucus vote. In Wyoming, Mr. Romney picked up at least six of 12 delegates after the local party meetings that also delivered at least two delegates to Rick Santorum, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Romney can also count on seven delegates from the U.S. Virgin Islands after he won the territory’s caucus, said Herb Schoenbohm, the Republican party chair there.

Mr. Romney already had three superdelegates before Saturday’s caucuses, and he picked up three more in voting in St. Thomas and St. Croix. After the vote, an uncommitted delegate switched to Romney.

Ron Paul got one delegate, and one delegate remains uncommitted.

With the Republican race still unsettled, voters in Olathe said they appreciated the opportunity to have a say in the nomination process. “I hope my vote does matter,” said Rhonda Barry, a resident of nearby Lenexa. “Collectively, we all can make a difference.”

Debbie Mays, a voter from Olathe, said she’d felt left out in the past, as the nomination was already secured or all but locked up by the time Kansans voted. Mrs. Mays declined to say which candidate won her vote Saturday but said she was focused on ensuring that President Barack Obama doesn’t win a second term.

At the three-hour caucus, surrogates for each candidate were allotted five minutes during each hour to make their case to voters. Many voters have become familiar with the stump speeches that the candidates deliver day after day. But the impassioned pitches made by their representatives offered a slightly different perspective on the Republicans in the race.

Mr. Santorum ‘s brother, Dan Santorum, showed up to tell voters that his older brother is a regular guy who does his own taxes and works in the family garden. “I just believe in him,” Mr. Santorum said as he greeted voters arriving at the caucus site. He quipped that he was also motivated to make a personal pitch for his brother by the promise of a Kansas City steak.

Kathy Gingrich Lubbers told voters that her dad, Newt Gingrich, really is the cheerful fellow he claimed to be in the last Republican debate. He has a “light-hearted spirit,” and he loves hiking and animals, she said.

She also mentioned her father’s oft-repeated promise to bring gas prices down to $2.50 per gallon.

Steve Shute, who spoke on behalf of Mr. Paul, assured voters that the Texas congressman is a true Republican, not a libertarian. And Ron Wilson, a retired theology professor who supports Mitt Romney, said that the Massachusetts governor wasn’t always a conservative. But “from the moment he came to that realization, he’s been solid as a rock,” he said.

Mr. Santorum still faces a long climb and long odds as he tries to catch Mr. Romney. In one tally, by the Associated Press, Mr. Romney leads with 442 delegates, topping Mr. Santorum’s 214. Mr. Gingrich has 107 and Mr. Paul has 46, according to the AP. It takes 1,144 delegates to capture the GOP nomination at the August convention in Tampa, Fla.

{The Wall Street Journal/ Newscenter}