Rick Santorum’s delegate woes: Trying hard in some states; in others, not so much
By Felicia Sonmez,
Rick Santorum won’t be winning any delegates in four of Illinois’ 18 congressional districts next month. But, at least in the 13th District, it won’t be because he didn’t try.
Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). (Julie Denesha/Getty Images)
But the petitions were never submitted. A volunteer inadvertently failed to take them out of the envelope, the Journal Register reports, and the envelope wound up in the trash.
Even if those petitions had been handed in, the Journal-Register story said, it’s possible they would have been challenged. The Santorum camp was only able to round up some 50 signatures for its slate of delegates in the district, well short of the 600 required.
All in all, the Santorum campaign’s organizational missteps mean that it is already at a deficit of at least 30 delegates in the races playing out over the next month – even before voters in those contests have cast their ballots.
In some states, such as Alabama, the Santorum campaign has tried, but apparently not hard enough.
According to Shana Kluck, communications director for the Alabama Republican Party, more than 200 people are running in next Tuesday’s primary to serve as national convention delegates for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
A similar number are running to win spots as delegates for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), followed by former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
“He’s missing four spots,” Kluck said – two spots in the 7th District and two at-large delegate spots – meaning that even if Santorum wins big in the state next week, he won’t be eligible for all of Alabama’s 47 bound delegates.
And then in some places, such as the District of Columbia, Santorum’s camp hasn’t even tried at all.
When Republican voters in the District go to the polls on April 3, they’ll find four names on their primary ballot: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney ... and Jon Huntsman.
There were two ways to get on the ballot in the District. The Romney and Huntsman campaigns both took the first route – submitting a minimum of 296 signatures and a $5,000 fee to the District Republican Party.
The Gingrich and Paul campaigns took the second route – bypassing the petition process and paying $10,000 to the District party.
Santorum’s campaign opted for neither, forfeiting a shot at the District’s 16 delegates up for grabs next month.
“We were never contacted by the Santorum campaign,” said Alysoun McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections.
Santorum is down 16 delegates in the District, four in Alabama and 10 in Illinois, where he failed to submit delegate slates in the 4th, 5th, 7th and 13th districts.
That’s on top of the 64 delegates that Santorum missed a shot at on Super Tuesday. He failed to make the ballot in Virginia, where 46 bound delegates were up for grabs, and he submitted incomplete delegate slates in Ohio, giving up a chance at 18 of the 48 delegates allocated by congressional district.
In some states, the Santorum campaign’s disorganization in the delegate race has had a bigger impact than in others. Missing a chance at some of Virginia’s 46 delegates, for instance, was a pretty big deal.
But an analysis of the Ohio results shows that Santorum would have won only seven more delegates in the Buckeye State on Tuesday if he had submitted full slates of delegates. (He won four congressional districts where he did not submit full slates.)
In Tennessee, which also voted on Super Tuesday, Santorum failed to submit any delegate names – but luckily for him, it appears he won’t be at a loss because the state GOP executive committee will tap delegates later in the process.
And in Alabama, where Santorum is down four delegates, the problem could be moot in the end because alternate delegates – chosen at the state GOP meeting this summer – may be able to fill those spots.
“If he does happen to win those spots, there will be alternates chosen at our summer meeting in June. ... The people who are supporting Santorum would try to run for those spots. It doesn’t necessarily mean Santorum supporters will be chosen for those spots,” said Kluck, the state party communications director.
Whether Santorum’s delegate troubles continue remains an open question – and, of course, the issue is as much about his campaign’s competency as it is about the actual delegate race.
The Romney campaign has hammered Santorum on the issue. Asked this week by Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace to explain why he has failed to qualify for delegates in various states, Santorum chalked it up to his “very, very limited resources” early in the race rather than a broader lack of organization.
“Well, as you know, those delegates had to be filed in Virginia and all the way back in early part of December,” Santorum said. “And, you know, look, I’ll be honest, I mean, I was running across the state of Iowa and, you know, sitting in 2 percent of the national polls, with very, very limited resources, you know, we didn’t have the ability to go out.”
A Santorum spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the campaign’s organization going forward. But a look at some of the big contests coming up – such as the state of New York, which votes April 24 – suggests that it may be beginning to get its act together.
The deadline to file for delegates in the state was Feb. 21, and Santorum – along with the other three presidential hopefuls – has submitted names for 58 delegates in all of New York’s 29 new congressional districts.