Santorum Out, Michigan-Born Romney Heads For Nomination

Before this campaign season, many voters in the Great Lakes had only peripherally heard of Rick Santorum. But his surprisingly strong challenge to Mitt Romney in Midwest Republican primaries most likely kept his campaign alive. 

Now, Santorum is suspending his race for the Republican nomination, effective today.

That most likely clears the way for Romney to become the first Michigan-born Republican nominee since Thomas Dewey. Romney, who hails from Detroit, is likely to face President Barack Obama in the fall.

“This race was as improbable as any you’ll ever see for president,” Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, said this afternoon. But, he added, “We are not done fighting.”

Santorum achieved one distinction during this winter’s primaries, by becoming the only Republican candidate to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He had a pasty for breakfast and picked up nearly all the UP’s delegates.

Read Changing Gears’ coverage of the Midwest Republican primaries here.

Romney Aims For A Big Midwest Win In Illinois

Illinoisans are casting their votes today in the state’s Republican primary. If polls are correct, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is heading for his first blow out victory in a Midwestern state. 

He had unexpectedly close contests with former Sen. Rick Santorum in Michigan and Ohio, which made the Illinois primary more important than most political watchers thought it would be.

Illinois has 54 delegates up for grabs, fewer than Ohio, but more than Michigan. Romney has a strong organization in the state, while Santorum failed to file full slates of delegate candidates in four Congressional districts. If he were to upset Romney, he could win no more than 44 delegates, the Chicago Tribune said.  Continue reading “Romney Aims For A Big Midwest Win In Illinois”

In Illinois, Firefighters Counter Romney With Their Own Ad

Republican presidential candidates are making their final push in Illinois before tomorrow’s primary. They’ve flooded the airwaves with advertisements. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney alone has spent nearly $4 million in the state, according to the Chicago Tribune.

But Illinois firefighters have countered with their own anti-Romney ad, paid for by their union, the International Association of Firefighters.

The ad focuses in part on SAFER, a government program that provided $10.2 million in grants to Illinois communities last year to hire or retrain firefighters. Continue reading “In Illinois, Firefighters Counter Romney With Their Own Ad”

Illinois, The Center of The Political Universe, Overflows With Candidates

Next Tuesday is the illinois Republican primary. But today, Illinois is the center of the political universe (not that it doesn’t always think it is).

Two Republican presidential candidates and President Obama are all in the state today, looking for votes, and in the case of the president, money.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum makes two stops in Arlington Heights today, with three downstate on Saturday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hit a Rosemont restaurant Friday morning, with more stops planned ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Obama, meanwhile, spoke to a fundraising luncheon in Chicago before heading to Atlanta.

Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich was in Illinois on Thursday. His performance in the state could determine whether the GOP race narrows to Romney and Santorum, or whether it remains a three-way contest.

 

Now, It’s Illinois’ Turn, With The Gingrich Factor Looming

The political world didn’t think the Republican primary season would last this long. But after Rick Santorum’s victories last night in Mississippi and Alabama, eyes are now turning to Illinois, which holds its primary next Tuesday. 

A big question about Illinois is whether it will be the last stand for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — or whether it keep him in the race longer.

He finished second behind Santorum in both southern primaries, and he is heading straight for Illinois for two days of campaigning. Gingrich told a Chicago radio station that he’s staying in the race until the August convention.

Said Gingrich: “When I was on a roll and Rick wasn’t, I was for Rick getting out of the race, too. And he correctly said no. And I’ve learned from him so I liked his answer.” Continue reading “Now, It’s Illinois’ Turn, With The Gingrich Factor Looming”

Michigan And Ohio: Political Sisters Under The Skin

Of course, Michigan and Ohio will always be rivals — some might even say enemies on the football field, at least. But when it comes to politics, these two Great Lakes states are sisters under the skin. 

Last night’s Super Tuesday primary showed just how alike the two states are.

As he did last week in Michigan, Mitt Romney again squeaked out a victory in Ohio’s Super Tuesday primary. As he did last week, Rick Santorum showed that his strength lies with the most conservative Republicans, many in rural areas and in smaller towns.

And both men face the prospect that no matter what they did in the Michigan and Ohio primaries, President Barack Obama could beat either one come November. Continue reading “Michigan And Ohio: Political Sisters Under The Skin”

Super Tuesday Arrives; Will A Presumptive Emerge?

Super Tuesday is here, and political pundits say that if Mitt Romney wins Ohio, the Republican primary race will be over. 

That’s a big “if” and of course, the former Massachusetts governor has not yet locked up the delegates he will need.

But a Romney victory over Rick Santorum would give him a moral boost, assuming it is by a large enough margin. There is no guarantee of that, however.

At the end of the day Monday, the race for Ohio’s 66 delegates still seemed to be a statistical tie. Romney and Santorum made six collective stops in Ohio yesterday. Santorum battled perceptions that Romney is more electable than he is; Romney aimed at President Obama’s policies.  Continue reading “Super Tuesday Arrives; Will A Presumptive Emerge?”

Round On The End, High In The Middle, And Full of Politicians

With Super Tuesday primaries looming next week, the political world’s eyes are on Ohio, one of the richest prizes on the big day. 

(Okay, there are a lot of eyes on the Arnold Sports Festival, but he’s a Republican too, after all.)

On Friday, the latest poll from Quinnipiac University declared the Ohio primary too close to call between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Pennsylvania’s former Sen. Rick Santorum.

It showed Santorum with 35 percent of likely Republican voters, and Romney at 31 percent. On Monday, Santorum had a 36 percent to 29 percent lead, a day before the Michigan primary. About 34 percent of Ohioans surveyed said they could still change their minds

“At this point, the Buckeye State is too close to call and is clearly a two-man race between Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mitt Romney,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“A third of the electorate say they still might change their mind. With five days until Super Tuesday, they certainly will be exposed to enough negative television ads to provide fodder for those who might want to switch – or switch off.”  Continue reading “Round On The End, High In The Middle, And Full of Politicians”

Michigan’s Done, Now Comes Ohio, With Many Things The Same

Over to you, Ohio. 

Mitt Romney’s narrow victory Tuesday night over Rick Santorum in the Michigan Republican primary now sets the stage for a repeat in the Buckeye State. And already, the situation is mirroring the one in Michigan.

A Quinnipiac University survey, published Monday, finds Santorum with a 7 percent lead over Romney in Ohio, the same lead he held two weeks ago. The Ohio Poll, by the University of Cincinnati, shows Santorum with an 11 percent lead.

Santorum led Romney by as much as 20 percent coming into the Michigan primary, too.

As in Michigan, a lot of people tell pollsters they may change their minds, which means lots of campaign appearances between now and next Tuesday. Continue reading “Michigan’s Done, Now Comes Ohio, With Many Things The Same”

Election Night in Michigan, From Changing Gears

Thanks for reading our updates on the Michigan primary race. We’ll be back on Wednesday with a look ahead to Ohio’s contest on Super Tuesday.

10:35 pm ET News organizations declare Romney the winner. It wasn’t the blow out that Romney might have wanted, but virtually all the major news organizations, including NPR, the New York Times, and the broadcast and cable networks, have called the Michigan primary for him.

With about 70 percent of votes in, Romney is leading Santorum by 41.6 percent to 37.3 percent. Since delegates are awarded on congressional districts, and the vote totals are not in, it’s not possible to divide them up yet. But both will get some.

CNN reports that Santorum called Romney before his speech to concede.

“Thank you, Michigan, what a win. Thanks, you guys,” Romney said at his campaign event. in Novi, Mich. “This is the place where I was born, this is the place that I was raised…I know that Michiganders in this room, we consider you all family.”

He added, “We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough, and that’s all that counts.”

10:15 pm ET. NBC calls it; Santorum speaks. NBC News becomes the first network to call the state for Romney. In Grand Rapids, an upbeat Santorum speaks to his followers. He thanks his supporters and says, “A month ago, they didn’t know who we were. They do now.”

He talks about his mother, who lived in Saginaw, and speaks of his college-educated wife. The comments are a contrast to Santorum’s dismissal of President Obama as a “snob” because he supports college education programs. Continue reading “Election Night in Michigan, From Changing Gears”