Ottawa Citizen

Romney takes Washington state

- ROS KRASNY

BELLEVUE, Washington • Mitt Romney breezed to an easy victory in the Washington state Republican presidenti­al caucuses on Saturday, U.S. media projected, as he gained another momentum boost heading into next week’s crucial “Super Tuesday” contests in 10 states.

With about 58 per cent of votes counted in the non-binding straw poll, Romney had 36 per cent support, followed by U.S. Representa­tive Ron Paul at 25 per cent, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum at 24 per cent and former U.S. House of Representa­tives Speaker Newt Gingrich at 11 per cent.

The state party said it was not yet calling the contest.

The outcome marked a fourth state win for Romney this week, after the former Massachuse­tts governor picked up contests in Michigan, Arizona and Wyoming. Republican­s are seeking a nominee to challenge President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 general election.

“I’m heartened to have won the Washington caucuses, and I thank the voters for their support today,” Romney said in a posting on Twitter and Facebook.

A Republican candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the party’s nomination. Some 419 delegates are at stake in the 10 primary and caucus contests on Tuesday.

States voting on Tuesday include Ohio, traditiona­lly a national bellwether, Georgia, Tennessee and Idaho, Washington’s neighbour to the east.

Turnout was heavy at Saturday’s caucuses, which gained more attention from candidates and media because of the volatile state of the Republican presidenti­al race and the pending Super Tuesday contests.

Kirby Wilbur, chairman of the state Republican Party, said voter turnout could probably exceed early estimates of 50,000, versus about 13,800 who participat­ed in 2008.

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