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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Santorum maintains Republican challenge with two more primary wins

The former Pennsylvania senator wins in Alabama and Mississippi – meaning Mitt Romney is still without a win in the south.

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gives a thumbs up during his election night party last night.
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gives a thumbs up during his election night party last night.
Image: Eric Gay/AP

FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR Rick Santorum has kept his hopes of winning the Republican Party’s presidential nomination alive with wins in two significant states.

Santorum won overnight primaries in Alabama, which carries 50 delegates to the Republican convention, and in Mississippi which carries a further 40.

While the margin of victory was not massive in either state – meaning that the leader in the race, Mitt Romney, maintains a strong lead in terms of overall delegates – the defeats may stand as a more long-term dent to his prospects.

Although AP delegate counts show Romney leading Santorum by 476 to 246, Romney has so far filed to win victory in any of the five southern states (excluding Florida) which have voted so far.

Santorum adds his two overnight wins to his previous victory in Tennessee, while former House speaker Newt Gingrich won in his home state of Georgia and in neighbouring South Carolina.

Indeed, Gingrich can have reason to feel disappointed with the evening’s events – he came second in Mississippi, a state he had been polling well in, and while also coming second in Alabama, won only 1,300 votes more than Romney to take 29.3 per cent in second place.

Romney will also find positives from the evening, despite his third-place finish in the two southern primaries: other ballots in the less prominent areas of Hawaii and American Samoa (with 29 delegates between them) mean he could still end the night having gained the most delegates.

Ron Paul came a distant fourth place in the two southern states, but outpolled Gingrich in Hawaii to take third place with 21.6 per cent of the vote compared to Romney’s 35.5 per cent and Santorum’s 29.1 per cent.

The primary race now continues with a primary in Puerto Rico next Sunday offering 23 delegates, while a nine-day non-biding caucus in Missouri begins tomorrow with 52 delegates up for grabs.

Other forthcoming ballots include Illinois next Tuesday, with 60 delegates to be won, and Louisiana the following Saturday with another 46 to be won.

The winning candidate will need the support of 1,144 delegates, meaning there is still some way to go before Romney can claim victory – and enough time for Santorum to further question Romney’s credentials as the best opponent for Barack Obama in November.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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