Santorum’s campaign, which faces a potential momentum-stopper if he loses Tuesday in Wisconsin, inquired about the cost of television in Maryland, station ad representatives said, but he never purchased any ads. Santorum has not campaigned in Maryland.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich made a pass through Annapolis last week and is expected in Frederick on Monday. Ron Paul drew a large crowd of college students Wednesday at the University of Maryland.
Tuesday’s primaries in Maryland and the District — where moderate Republicans also have little to no political voice — will unfold on the periphery of the night’s perceived big prize in Wisconsin.
But that has not bothered many in Maryland. Party leaders note their delegates and the District’s 16 add up to 53, more than the 42 at stake in the Badger State.
“We matter, for the first time in a long time,” said Mark Uncapher, a telecommunications lawyer in Bethesda who chairs the Montgomery County Republican Party.
Uncapher, who made up his mind for Romney in the summer, said one reason Maryland’s results will be relevant Tuesday is that he thinks they will reinforce a national narrative of the Republican Party coalescing behind Romney.
“A lot of it is the timing,” Uncapher said. “And quite frankly, as someone who supported [Sen. John] McCain four years ago, it’s fascinating to see how the perceptions have changed. Back then, Romney was the more conservative candidate. Now, he’s the moderate.”
Todd Eberly, an assistant professor of political science at St. Mary’s College, said it will not be surprising if Maryland heavily favors Romney.
“If you look at the exit polling from where Romney has won, he’s won in areas with income that was higher and where folks were better educated. High income, high education; that pretty much describes the entire population of Maryland.”
The campaign that Romney supporters have been running in the state speaks to Maryland’s special brand of Republicans. The headline event before Tuesday’s big vote? No fiery rally about Obama’s health-care program but a meet-and-greet Sunday to discuss foreign policy with former U.N. ambassador John R. Bolton.
“Winning here in Maryland and in D.C. on Tuesday will mark another significant step to show that Romney is the only truly national candidate left,” Bolton said after wooing more than 100 who packed the Royal Kosher restaurant in the northern Baltimore suburb of Pikesville with talk of how dangerous and ineffective Obama’s stance on Iran has been.
“The sooner we get our act together and everybody comes back into focus on the main event, the greater the likelihood we’ll win” the general election, Bolton said. Romney, he said, is the only candidate suitable to “sit at the big desk” and make important decisions looming on U.S. foreign policy.
Still, polls show Romney winning with less than a majority of the state’s Republican voters. While he is expected to win convincingly in Baltimore and Montgomery counties, the state’s two biggest concentrations of Republican voters, he may lose delegates in the state’s rural eastern and western flanks.
“There are areas of the state where Santorum could still do quite well,” Eberly said. Much the way Democrats win in the state, however, if Romney carries the suburbs of the District and Baltimore, he will win easily.
The question is whether Romney will be moderate enough, said Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican who represented Maryland’s 1st District in Congress for 18 years. He said he would have preferred to vote for former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr.
“The term moderate does not begin to describe the person with the intellect needed to deal with the complex issues we are facing in the 21st century,” Gilchrest said.