by Ed Farnan – Super Tuesday is the day a dominant GOP Presidential candidate can lock up the nomination. But this one seemed to magnify a division in the party factions who are fighting for the soul of the Republican Party.
Out of the 10 states up for grabs yesterday Mitt Romney won 6, but by barely eking out a win over Rick Santorum in the key state of Ohio it exposed unrest among the GOP electorate. Romney won his home state of Massachusetts and neighboring Vermont as expected. He also won Virginia where he ran basically unopposed with only Ron Paul on the ballot to challenge him, as Gingrich and Santorum failed to qualify for their ballot. He rounded out Tuesday with wins in Idaho and Alaska.
But Newt Gingrich won big in Georgia, his home state, signaling he still has skin in the game and is ready to continue on with his battle for the hearts and minds of the GOP.
Super Tuesday seemed to firmly ensconce Rick Santorum as the “not Romney” alternative which many voters seem to be searching for.
Although Santorum lost to Romney in Ohio, it was only by the narrowest of margins and not until late into the night was the election called for Romney. Santorum won key segments of the popular vote in Ohio by taking rural voters and winning big with the evangelical vote. Santorum outright won Oklahoma (the burgeoning energy behemoth), North Dakota and the key state of Tennessee, to round out the night.
There are now calls from the Santorum camp for Newt Gingrich to withdraw from the race so the conservative vote is not diluted and Santorum can face Romney 1 on 1. Ironically this is exactly what Newt Gingrich was calling upon Santorum to do just a few weeks back when Gingrich was riding high.
To add to the fun, hugely popular Sarah Palin has waded into the arena by announcing she voted for Newt Gingrich in yesterday’s Alaska Primary. This is a de facto endorsement on her part, which dovetails with husband Todd’s previous endorsement of Gingrich. Sarah is not one to go along with the GOP establishment, so it comes as no surprise.
But interestingly, Sarah has previously said she would not rule out a run for the Presidency, saying anything is possible…..she did not directly say she would run. What does that mean? She has previously told voters not to rubber stamp a candidate and that it is good for the GOP primary to continue on.
At the rate this season is going, if the field continues on with the front runner not being able to achieve the necessary delegates going into the Tampa Bay convention, it could mean trouble for the GOP
If a clear winner does not emerge from these primaries, it is very likely the GOP convention in Tampa Florida could turn into a “brokered” convention. If, after the first round of voting, a candidate is not chosen, the delegates are freed up to vote for whoever they chose on the 2nd round. That opens the door for some interesting possibilities…Would Sarah Palin’s name be among those mentioned?
Hopefully for the country, the primary process can deliver a clear winner to face President Obama in the upcoming general elections. We need a clear and open debate between the GOP candidate and the sitting President, not clouded by the circus of a brokered convention.