Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign has asked that state Sen. Stacey Campfield not be seated as a Tennessee delegate to the Republican National Convention, even though he won election as a delegate in Super Tuesday voting.
The request was made in a letter to the Republican State Executive Committee. But Adam Nickas, executive director of the state Republican party, says it would be “more appropriate” to challenge Campfield before a Republican National Committee credentials committee, not the state organization.
As far as state-level Republicans are concerned, Nickas says, Campfield is a duly-elected delegate for Gingrich, unless and until he resigns. Campfield has not resigned.
Campfield served as co-chairman of Gingrich’s campaign, but then resigned that post and endorsed Rick Santorum for the Republican presidential nomination on the weekend before Tennessee’s Super Tuesday voting. Santorum led all candidates in Tennessee’s March 6 voting and, according to the state GOP’s official count, will be entitled to 29 of the 55 delegates decided by the voting.
Mitt Romney finished second, entitled to 17 delegates, while Gingrich was third and gets nine Tennessee delegates, based on the final state party’s determination.
The Republican SEC meets Saturday to formally designate Santorum delegates, since no one was on the ballot as a Santorum delegate and to appoint delegates who were not elected – typically prominent Republican elected officials.
Campfield said today that he was asked to resign by a Gingrich campaign official, but replied that he understood resignation would mean Gingrich loses a Tennessee delegate. He also said the told the official he wa open to looking at other options. The official, the senator said, told him, “We’ll get back to you,” but never did.
Actually, says Nickas, if Campfield resigned, the Gingrich campaign could fill his slot with an alternative delegate and not lose one of the nine delegates the former House speaker won in Tennessee’s Super Tuesday.
Campfield said he is prepared to go to the convention as a Gingrich delegate and vote for Gingrich on the first two ballots, just as party rules require. The senator says the Santorum campaign has offered him a seat as a Santorum delegate.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won half of Tennessee’s delegates to the Republican National Convention from Super Tuesday presidential primary voting this month, according to the Tennessean report from the state GOP after results were certified Thursday. Santorum won 29 of the 55 committed delegates, easily outpacing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 17 and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s nine. The state’s final three delegates — the state party chairman, RNC national committeewoman and RNC national committeeman — are uncommitted.
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the other remaining contender for the Republican nomination, did not win any delegates. Santorum won eight of the state’s nine congressional districts on March 6, trailing Romney only in the Memphis-based 9 District.
With each district offering three delegates, Santorum took home two in each of the districts he won, plus one in the 9th, for a total of 17 of a possible 27. He added those to the 12 at-large delegates he had already picked up out of 28 that were available.
Romney finished second to Santorum in six of those eight congressional districts, including the Nashville-based 5th and the 7th, which includes Williamson County.
Going into Super Tuesday, it seemed possible that the Tennessee Republican primary tradition of conservatives splitting their votes to assure plurality victory for a moderate would hold true.
Coming out of Super Tuesday, just maybe a new normal has been achieved wherein the conservative wing of the Republican party can believe in better.
According to WPLN, 285 Tennessee voters saw their ballots put on hold in the state primaries Tuesday because they didn’t have proper photo ID under a new law – and some of those votes won’t be counted. Voters without the required ID were instead allowed to cast provisional ballots. Those ballots were set aside, while voters had two days to come back with an ID to make them count How many voters did so isn’t clear yet, but State Election Coordinator Mark Goins says some didn’t bother.
“Of course, some individuals may not return because their candidate won. If their candidate won they’re more likely to not return, or if there’s a wide margin separating those candidates.”
Goins also says impersonators trying to vote under an assumed name might not come back over a provisional ballot, noting the new law is meant to prevent voter fraud. Critics have argued that kind of fraud is more rare than being struck by lightning, and that the requirement might have steered some voters away, without even casting a provisional ballot.
Goins says the 285 provisional ballots cast is miniscule given the more than 620 thousand Tennesseans that voted. For all the concerns over the new ID requirement, Goins says, “the sky didn’t fall.”
The Republican National Committee on Friday issued its breakdown of the candidate delegate count in Tennessee based on results of the Super Tuesday presidential primary results:
Rick Santorum 29
Mitt Romney 16
Newt Gingrich 10
But Adam Nickas, executive director of the state Republican Party, says some of the congressional district results are so close that the state party won’t say what the breakdown is until the results are officially certified. And the RNC says its count is subject to change.
Tennessee will send a total of 58 delegates to the Republican National Convention, 55 based on Super Tuesday voting and the other three uncommitted as RNC delegates.
If not for Tennessee, the slugfest for the GOP presidential nomination might already be over, writes Michael Collins. Rick Santorum’s solid victory over Mitt Romney in Tennessee in the Super Tuesday presidential primary enables the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania to stay in the race and all but guarantees that the bloody battle for the GOP nomination will drag on for weeks.
“That’s the most important take-away here: The race will continue, and Tennessee had something to do with that — for better or worse,” said Anthony Nownes, a political scientist at the University of Tennessee.
Romney walked away with the most wins in the Super Tuesday elections. The former Massachusetts governor won six of the 10 states that held nominating contests on Tuesday, while Santorum took three and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won one.
A strong showing in the two most competitive contests — Tennessee and Ohio — would have solidified Romney’s standing as the frontrunner in the race. But Romney failed to deliver the knockout punch he needed. His 9-point loss in Tennessee and his narrow win over Santorum in Ohio again raised doubts about his appeal to conservative voters and served to prolong the nomination fight.
“If Romney had won in Tennessee, there would be a fair number of calls today for Santorum and Gingrich to ensure party unity by getting out,” said Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “Well, I haven’t heard anybody say that Santorum and Gingrich should drop out and endorse Romney. I think Tennessee had a lot to do with that.”
Tuesday’s election marked the first time in more than a decade that Tennessee has played a significant role in a presidential contest. The last time the state had such an impact on a presidential race was when Republican George W. Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 general election. Gore’s disappointing loss in his home state ultimately kept him out of the White House.
Tennessee mattered this year for a number of reasons.
Of the 10 states that held nominating contests on Tuesday, only Georgia and Ohio had more delegates to the Republican National Convention at stake than Tennessee. But Georgia was Gingrich’s home state, so the election outcome there was never really in doubt.
State Sen. Stacey Campfield, who resigned as co-chairman of Newt Gingrich’s Tennessee campaign last week, was nonetheless elected a Gingrich delegate in voting Tuesday.
On the other hand, state Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, who remained alone as head of the Gingrich Tennessee campaign after Campfield’s resignation, failed to win a delegate seat in the voting based on unofficial returns.
Twenty-eight “at large” delegates are allocated on the basis of Tuesday’s vote statewide and Adam Nickas, executive director of the state Republican Party, said the unofficial results will translate into 12 statewide delegates for Rick Santorum, nine for Mitt Romney and seven for Gingrich.
Campfield and Shipley were among 10 persons on the ballot as committed statewide delegates for Gingrich in Tuesday’s voting, having qualified earlier this year. Under tentative state GOP plans, just the top four will get elected Gingrich delegate spots with the other three will be appointed by the Republican State Executive Committee in consultation with the Gingrich campaign, Nickas said.
Campfield finished second in the statewide delegate voting with 121,508 votes, just behind Sullivan County Commissioner John Gardner, also a Gingrich delegate. Shipley finished eighth with 111,909, meaning he does not win a seat.
As things stand now, Nickas said Campfield is considered elected as a committed Gingrich delegate, bound to vote for the former House speaker on the first two ballots at the Republican National Convention. From party rules, it appears the Gingrich campaign would have to release him as a delegate for him to step down, Nickas said, and if Gingrich did so, he would lose a Tennessee delegate.
From Division of Elections website: Republican presiential preference primary:
Michele Bachmann 1,874
Newt Gingrich 132,017
Jon Huntsman 1,219
Gary Johnson 564
Ron Paul 49,740
Rick Perry 1,938
Charles “Buddy” Roemer 876
Mitt Romney 153,372
Rick Santorum 204,333 Democratic presidential primary:
Barack Obama 78,979 Note: County-by-county returns are HERE.
Rick Santorum rode a wave of social conservative support to victory in Tennessee’s Super Tuesday Republican presidential primary, overcoming the solid support for Mitt Romney from many state GOP leaders.
The Tennessee results were a disappointment for Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, who finished third in a state he had hoped would help his campaign rebound.
The results were also marked a rare win for a candidate who was hugely outspent in Tennessee campaigning. Pro-Romney forces, including a “Super PAC,” spent about $1.6 million advertising in the state – much of the money going to TV ads that attacked Santorum – while Gingrich’s forces spent about $470,000, according the most recently-reported figures.
Only about $100,000 was spent on Santorum advertising in the state, but the candidate had made trips to the state – the last including an appearance at a Memphis Baptist Church on Sunday. Romney visited Knoxville Sunday while Gingrich campaigned through East Tennessee on Monday.
“I think what he stands for is the closest to how Tennesseans feel about things,” said state Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, who is co-chairman of the Santorum campaign in Tennessee.
“He is the candidate who recognizes you have to be both socicially conservative and fiscally conservative because, when morals go down, taxes go up,” said Dunn in an interview after Santorum’s Tennessee victory was clear.
Latest unofficial returns Tuesday night, with about 58 percent of the vote counted, showed former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Santorum with 38 percent of the total, followed by Romney with 28 percent. Gingrich had 23 percent followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul with 9 percent.
Fifty-five delegates will be sent to the Republican National Convention from Tennessee. It appeared Tuesday night that Santorum had won at least 19 of the 28 delegates that will be allocated on the basis of statewide results. The remaining 27 are based on the voting in each of the state’s nine Congressional districts and the allocation was unclear late Tuesday.
The Associated Press said exit polling of 1,769 Tennessee Republican primary voters found that about seven in 10 identified themselves as born-again Christians.. About three-quarters said it mattered at least somewhat that a candidate shared their religious beliefs.
Romney is a Mormon while Santorum is Catholic.
Dunn, a Catholic who accepts the born-again label for himself, said the born-again majority in Tennessee is not surprising and ties into the belief that “You have to fix your social problems or you’re never going to fix your money problems.”
Dunn was the first state legislator to endorse Santorum, though 11 others eventually joined him. Six backed Gingrich. Twenty-two state legislators backed Romney, including House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Gov. Bill Haslam served as chairman of the Romney campaign in Tennessee and traveled the state last week to urge support for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney was also backed by four of the state’s GOP congressmen – the others did not endorse anyone – along with Sen. Lamar Alexander, former Gov. Winfield Dunn and many of the state’s leading Republican fundraisers.
It remains to be seen how significant Santorum’s victory in Tennessee, one of ten state’s voting or holding caucuses on “Super Tuesday,” will be in the national presidential nomination picture. In 2008, Tennessee Republicans gave a state victory to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who presented himself as the most socially conservative candidate in that year’s campaign. Arizona Sen. John McCain finished as Tennessee runnerup in 2008 and went on to win the GOP nomination. Romney finished third in Tennessee’s 2008 contest.
President Obama was unopposed in the Democratic primary. State Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester sent out a statement Tuesday night criticizing Romney, who many Democrats believe will be the ultimate winner of the Republican contest.
“Mitt Romney’s loss tonight shows that he is out-of-touch with Tennesseans and it raises serious concerns about his chances in November — if he can make it to the general election,” said Forrester. “Not only did he and Tennessee’s Republican establishment fail to convince GOP voters to support his candidacy; he also wounded himself among women, moderate and blue-collar workers, without whose support he simply cannot win.”
By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn.– Nearly half of those voting in Tennessee’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday said the economy was their top concern, with another third citing the deficit and more than nine in 10 saying gas prices were a factor in how they voted.
David Morgan, a 55-year-old salesman voting in Nashville listed his top concerns as “the economy and jobs and now the gas prices.”
“The whole economy is down,” he said. “Myself, I don’t make as much as I used to.”
Morgan said he voted for Mitt Romney because “I feel like he is the one that can beat Obama.”
About a third of Republican voters said the candidate quality that mattered most to them was beating President Barack Obama, according to preliminary results from an exit poll conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press. Smaller percentages were most concerned about their candidate’s moral character, experience or conservative credentials.
About seven in 10 Tennessee voters identified themselves as born-again Christians, more than in any state voting previously. About three-quarters said it mattered at least somewhat that a candidate shared their religious beliefs.
Mary Cecil, a retiree voting in Sevierville, said she voted for Rick Santorum on Tuesday. Although the economy was a concern, she said the deciding factor was: “I would like to have a true Christian in the White House.”
About nine in 10 voters said they had a negative view of the way the federal government is working, with about four in 10 saying they were “angry” about it. Almost two-thirds backed the tea party movement.
Results from the Tennessee exit poll are based on interviews with 1,769 Republican primary voters, including 640 absentee or early voters who were interviewed by phone before election day. Election day voters come from a random sample of 30 polling places. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.