Super Tuesday pivotal for GOP hopefuls

Ohio race is key among 10 states being contested
March 4, 2012 12:23 am

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Ohio, like Michigan, has an open primary, a structure that was a source of controversy in Michigan, where the Santorum campaign used robo-calls to encourage cross-party votes. While Mr. Santorum may hope for such aid in Ohio as well, one prominent Democrat said he didn't see that as much of a likely factor.

"I don't think so, even though there's no presidential primary on our side," said Jim Ruvalo, a former Democratic Party chairman. "I don't sense a feeling among Democrats here that they want to create mischief."

Mr. Paul has not been much of a factor in the Ohio race, concentrating instead on caucus states, including Washington, which set the stage for Super Tuesday with its Saturday contest. Mr. Romney claimed a double-digit victory Saturday night over Mr. Santorum and Mr. Paul, who were locked in a close fight for second. Mr. Gingrich was fourth.

Mr. Romney also hoped to pick up delegates Tuesday in caucuses in Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota. In addition to Ohio and Georgia, Republicans have a chance to vote in primaries in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

While a loss in Ohio would be a bruising setback, Mr. Romney appears likely to emerge from the day with the largest nationwide harvest of delegates. In addition to the fact that no one else is seriously contesting his home state of Massachusetts, he and Mr. Paul were the only remaining contenders who managed to qualify for the ballot in Virginia. And, as the Romney campaign gleefully pointed out Saturday, Mr. Santorum also failed to field full delegate slates in Tennessee.

For all the attention to Ohio, with the largest population and most hotly contested race among the Super Tuesday states, heavily Republican Georgia offers more delegates. Mr. Gingrich, whose candidacy has faded since his landslide victory in neighboring South Carolina, conceded that his chances of continuing in the GOP race are slim if he fails to hold serve on his home court.

Politics editor James O'Toole: jotoole@post-gazette.com.
First Published 2012-03-03 23:19:14

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