Santorum Wins Louisiana GOP Primary

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santorumRick Santorum has won Louisiana’s Republican presidential primary today, but his victory seems unlikely to change the trajectory of the race, in which Mitt Romney remains the prohibitive favorite.

Rick Santorum shakes hands, signs autographs and takes photos with supporters at his pep rally Friday in Shreveport, La.

Louisiana was Santorum’s third Southern state win this month – he also won Alabama and Mississippi primaries March 13 – and Newt Gingrich’s third loss in the region that he had made the focus of his campaign.

With only 20 delegates at stake in Louisiana, Santorum’s victory will do little to close the gap with Romney. Going into Saturday’s primary, the former Massachusetts governor had already amassed 563 delegates of the 1,144 he needs to secure the nomination; Santorum had only 263 and Gingrich 135.

But Santorum made clear he would press on beyond Louisiana and spent Saturday campaigning in next-up Wisconsin, which votes April 3 and represents one of his last chances to beat Romney in a Midwestern state.

“Stand for your principles. Don’t compromise. Don’t sell America short,” Santorum implored voters in Milwaukee, telling them he expected their state to be “the turning point in this race.”

Despite clear blue skies and one of the most closely watched Republican primaries in Louisiana history, voting at several locations here Saturday was thin and sporadic.

Joan Wetzel, a high school French teacher from New Orleans, said she voted for Santorum, despite Romney’s wide lead and support from most of the Republican leadership. Santorum’s promise to restore liberties that she believes have been unraveled by the Obama administration and his anti-abortion stance made the former Pennsylvania senator an appealing candidate, despite his small odds of winning the nomination, she said.

“Miracles happen,” Wetzel said. “You never know.”

Jenny Cromer also voted for Santorum but for different reasons. Cromer, a longtime registered Republican, said the GOP today caters too much to the extreme fringes and has lost her backing. She said she voted for Santorum because she feels he has the best chance of losing to President Obama in November.

“I think that will further confuse the Republican primary process,” said Cromer, 57, a parent liaison at a New Orleans middle school. “(Santorum) will be much easier for Obama to beat.”

Michael Tubbs, 50, a New Orleans insurance broker, said it was Romney’s business acumen that drew him to the candidate. He voted for Romney on Saturday, despite not really caring for any of the Republican candidates, he said.

“He’s electable,” Tubbs said of Romney. “It’s about who can win against (Obama) in November.”

Gloria Kanwit, a retired schoolteacher from the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, said she chose Santorum for “being a highly principled person” and for his strong anti-abortion views. His chances of winning the candidacy, she admits, are slim.

“I know it’s a miraculous chance,” she said. “But I hope it happens.”

The historically tight race for the Republican presidential nomination has given Louisiana one of the busiest primary seasons in state history. The candidates have crisscrossed the state the past week, speaking at rallies and restaurants from Shreveport to Houma to New Orleans. Santorum and Gingrich, who need Louisiana’s delegates to keep their campaigns going, had been the most visible here, and all four candidates – including Texas Rep. Ron Paul- campaigned in the state Friday.

Santorum’s aim is to capture a majority of the state’s delegates and reignite the momentum he gained from recent big wins in Alabama and Mississippi, while Gingrich needed delegates to keep his candidacy alive, said Ed Chervenak, a University of New Orleans political scientist. “They’ve been fighting tooth and nail for every delegate,” he said.

{USA Today/Matzav.com Newscenter}

1 COMMENT

  1. Mazel Tov Rick! Continued Hatzlacha! Can’t wait till you come here to New York. My whole family will be enthusiasticly voting for you! You will win! The recent victories here in Brooklyn by Bob Turner & David Storobin, proved all the naysayers WRONG! All the “experts” were saying, oh come on, grow up, get real, Turner/Storobin have ZERO chance of winning! Impossible! Not going to happen! Well those experts were dead wrong! It’s time for Romney to step aside!

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