Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won his first Republican primary by beating out his top rival John McCain in Michigan’s January 15 contest.
National news outlets called the race for Romney after he earned 39 percent of the vote over McCain’s 30 percent with 31 percent of precincts reporting. Mike Huckabee tallied a distant third with 16 percent
After losing Iowa and New Hampshire, Michigan was considered a “must-win” for Romney. Now, with no apparent frontrunner after three primaries, the GOP candidates will travel to South Carolina to prepare for the Palmetto State’s January 28 primary.
In his concession speech, McCain suggested Romney’s victory was partially due to his familial ties to Michigan. Romney’s father once governed the state and on the campaign trail Romney has reminded voters he grew up in Michigan.
“He and his campaign worked hard and effectively to make sure Michigan voters welcomed their native son with support,” McCain said.
Rudy Giuliani’s senior campaign advisor Tony Carbonetti blasted out a three sentence congratulatory email that similarly noted Romney’s home state status. Carbonetti’s email was sent from Jacksonville, Florida where the Giuliani campaign has been staking their ground for the primary later this month.. “We congratulate Mitt Romney for wining his home state of Michigan,’ Carbonetti said. “It’s clear after tonight that while the race remains fluid and competitive, our strategy remains on track. Rudy is going to continue to campaign aggressively in Florida and after the energy we’ve seen on the trail this past week, we’re confident that we’ll be successful on the 29th.”
At press time, it is not known what percentage of the vote Giuliani earned in Michigan.
According to early reports, some voters were influenced by Romney’s close relationship to Michigan and Romney won support from voters who said the economy and illegal immigration were most important to them.
Earlier this week on the campaign trail, McCain was booed in Livonia, Michigan over his position on illegal immigration.