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Rick Santorum wins Missouri 'beauty contest'

February 07, 2012|By James Oliphant
  • Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum arrives at a campaign rally in Blaine, Minn.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum arrives at a campaign… (Ben Garvin / Getty Images )

Rick Santorum won Missouri’s presidential primary Tuesday, according to an Associated Press projection, but the only thing he can claim as a result is some newfound momentum.

Because of a scheduling dispute within the state legislature, Missouri will hold binding caucuses next month, making Tuesday’s primary basically a beauty contest, lovely to look at but short on substance. No delegates will be apportioned to Santorum.

Still, Santorum can argue that more Republicans showed up to cast votes for him than for Mitt Romney or Ron Paul, providing a rationale for his candidacy going forward. In that sense, it’s Santorum’s first dose of good news since he was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses.

Aiding Santorum’s efforts in the Show-Me State was Newt Gingrich's failure to qualify for the ballot. With about 62% of the vote (155,000 votes) counted, Santorum had 55% of the vote.

John McCain won Missouri’s primary in 2008, capturing the state’s 58 delegates. This time around, 52 are at stake, but again, they won’t be apportioned until next month’s caucuses.

Tuesday’s primary was controversial in Missouri. Holding a primary in which no delegates were selected ended up costing the state $7 million.

The election was required under state law, and the legislature failed to pass a measure to move the date into next month.

Voting before March 1 would violate Republican Party rules, if the primary results were binding, resulting in a penalty that would have cost Missouri half of its delegate slots at the convention in Tampa in late August.

State Republicans opted to hold caucuses instead, starting on St. Patrick’s Day.

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