Romney edges competition in state poll

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses supporters at his Super Tuesday campaign rally in Boston, Tuesday, March 6.

JUNEAU — Mitt Romney won the Alaska GOP's presidential preference poll Tuesday, edging out Rick Santorum in a race Romney won handily four years ago.


With 96 percent of the vote in, Romney had 4,225 votes, or 33 percent; Santorum had 3,762 votes, or 29 percent. Ron Paul finished third, matching his finish in 2008. Newt Gingrich placed fourth.

Twenty-four delegates were up for grabs in Tuesday's contest, with allocation in proportion to the candidate's share of the popular vote. The state Republican party reported 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.

Alaska Republicans 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, 60, of Juneau, was poll watching for Romney's campaign. Geldhof said he gave money to Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor who failed to gain traction and announced last year that he'd seek the Libertarian nomination. Geldhof said he also was interested in Jon Huntsman until he "flopped."

He said Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is serious, and would probably be a better president than he is a candidate.

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

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."

Alaska was one of 10 states holding contests Tuesday. In addition to the 24 delegates that were being awarded based on Tuesday's vote, Alaska has three other delegates — state party leaders who will attend the national convention as unpledged — bringing Alaska's overall delegate total 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," he said.


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