Alaska Republicans pick Romney in presidential preference poll

Associated PressMarch 6, 2012 

JUNEAU — Ron Paul was hoping Alaska would deliver on Super Tuesday.

It did — for Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor edged out Rick Santorum to win the Alaska GOP's presidential preference poll — his sixth victory of Super Tuesday. Romney also won Alaska four years ago, but this year's race was much tighter.

With 100 percent of the vote in, Romney had 4,285 votes, or 32 percent; Santorum had 3,860 votes, or 29 percent. Ron Paul, the only candidate to personally visit Alaska ahead of the vote, finished third, with 3,175 votes, or 24 percent. Newt Gingrich placed fourth, with 1,865 votes, or 14 percent. Thirty-four voters were uncommitted.

In all, 13,219 votes were cast, hundreds fewer than in the inaugural poll four years ago. According to the state Division of Elections, there are about 131,600 registered Republicans in Alaska.

In 2008, Romney easily won the state. Paul finished third. Eventual party nominee John McCain finished fourth.

Romney won six of the 10 states voting on Super Tuesday. Santorum won three, and Gingrich one — leaving Paul without a single win.

Twenty-four delegates were up for grabs in Alaska's contest, to be allocated in proportion to the candidate's share of the popular vote. The state Republican party projected that Romney won eight delegates; Santorum, seven; Paul, six; and Gingrich, three.

Only registered Republicans, or Alaskans who registered as Republicans on site, were allowed to participate.

GOP voters crowded polling places to make their choice. In Anchorage, one polling place had lines before the polls opened at 4 p.m. and no place to park, even on side streets.

Voters in the capital city began showing up as soon as the polling place at the Juneau Yacht Club opened.

Attorney Joe Geldhof of Juneau was poll watching for Romney's campaign. He said Romney was serious and would probably be a better president than he is a candidate.

"He excites nobody, but I think he has administrative experience," said Geldhof, 60.

Barbara Fiscus, 44, cast her vote for Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, at the Juneau Yacht Club.

Fiscus, a stay-at-home Juneau mother who homeschools her children, said a number of issues are important to her, from the economy to moral issues. When picking a candidate, she said it came down to whom she considered the most conservative.

"I just think it's such an important vote," she said. "I wanted to make sure my conservative voice was heard."

Besides the 24 delegates being awarded based on Tuesday's vote, Alaska has three state party leaders who are delegates who will attend the national convention as unpledged, bringing the state's total number of delegates to 27.

Alaska does not have presidential primaries.

In Anchorage, former Marine officer Steve Langer, 54, said he voted for the one "who, in my opinion, is the only one that can mop the floor with Barack Obama, and that is not Mitt Romney. It is Newt Gingrich."

Tom Wadzinski, a 73-year-old technician from Anchorage, said Gingrich has the best ideas, and a good track record. "When he was a congressman, he was dynamite," he said.

Back in Juneau, Robert File, 81, voted for Paul.

"We've lost our way. The government thinks we can live on the future. That's impossible. We owe too much money," he said. Paul, a Texas congressman, is the only one in the race with "any brains," File said.


Associated Press writer Mark Thiessen contributed to this report from Anchorage.

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