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GOP Looks Southward


  Last week it seemed as though former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney might be the presumptive GOP presidential nominee before the Bayou State got its chance to weigh in — but, no. After "Super Tuesday," when 10 states held their Republican primaries and caucuses, the race to become the Republican nominee for president was still undecided, and that means the March 24 Bayou State primary has ratcheted up in intensity and significance. Early voting began March 10.

  When the Super Tuesday ballot dust had settled, Romney was still the frontrunner, but he missed the chance to score a TKO against his opponents. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania did well in the Midwest, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia by 23 points. Neither man, nor the fourth candidate, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, showed any sign of conceding to Romney. Instead, the candidates turned their attention to the South — specifically Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. By March 9, Gingrich was stumping in Meridian, Miss., Santorum was in Mobile, Ala. and Romney was telling a crowd in Pascagoula, Miss. that he liked grits. "Spartanburg [S.C.] all the way to Texas, they all need to go for Gingrich," Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll taken Feb. 29-March 1, Santorum's support had risen among Southern Republicans — to 31 percent, from 18 percent just a month before — while Gingrich's had pancaked, from 45 percent to 15 percent. Santorum's family-values bona fides are expected to continue to play well in the Deep South, and Gingrich, whose only two wins have been Southern states, has adjusted his campaign plans to appear in Alabama and Mississippi, whose primaries will be held Tuesday, March 13.

  Louisiana will have 46 delegates at the Republican National Convention, which will be held Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla. Only 20 of our state's GOP delegates are up for grabs on March 24, however — and to secure any of them, a candidate must win at least 25 percent of the primary vote. — Kevin Allman

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