Full Ohio delegate slate out of reach for Santorum

AP News
Posted: Mar 02, 2012 10:59 PM
Full Ohio delegate slate out of reach for Santorum

A wrinkle in his early campaign filings could leave Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum without almost a third of the available Ohio delegates even if he wins Super Tuesday's primary election.

Santorum, who took a campaign swing through the state Friday, has already forsaken nine delegates by not being on ballots in three Ohio congressional districts. Each district merits three delegates.

Party officials said Friday the problem goes deeper.

Santorum failed to file a full complement of delegates in six additional districts, said central committee member Bob Bennett. The holes add up to another nine delegates, for a total of 18 out of the 63 up for grabs. Santorum also did not file all 18 of his at-large delegates.

"He may very well leave delegates on the sidelines," Bennett said. "Say he would win 70 percent of the state. He doesn't have that many delegates."

Ohio Republican Party spokesman Chris Maloney says party rules call for appointing a three-member Committee on Contest to decide what to do with the unallocated delegates. That panel's recommendation would go back to the GOP's state central committee for a final ruling.

"The leftover delegates will be considered unallocated, and the presidential campaigns will be able to file a contest with the GOP to claim them," Maloney said.

An email was not immediately answered seeking comment from the Santorum campaign.

On a February stop at the Ohio Statehouse, Santorum said he didn't view not being on the ballot in three Ohio congressional districts as an impediment to his campaign.

The party doles out 48 delegates from the March 6 primary based on how well candidates do in each of Ohio's 16 congressional districts. The other 18 delegates are awarded at large.

Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the rival campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, criticized the lack of delegates.

"Rick Santorum has failed to get on the ballot in Virginia, has failed to file full delegate slates in Tennessee, New Hampshire and Illinois, and has failed to submit enough delegates in several Ohio congressional districts," he said in a statement. "The fact that he cannot execute the simple tasks that are required to win the Republican nomination proves that Rick Santorum is incapable of taking on President Obama's formidable political machine."

Santorum filed two of three delegates in Ohio's 3rd, 8th, and 12th congressional districts and one of three delegates in the 4th, 10th, and 16th districts.

Bennett said Santorum didn't file alternates in all those districts, but where they're available he believes Santorum should be allowed to use them if he wins.

"I think that common sense would say that if he carries a district, you're going to give him the ability to have all three delegates (by using alternates)," Bennett said. "That's my opinion. You'd have to check with other people because there are going to be a whole variety of opinions on that."