Front-runner Romney wins Republican primary in Illinois

March 21st, 2012 - 5:15 pm ICT by BNO News  

CHICAGO, Illinois (BNO NEWS) — Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won the Republican presidential primary in Illinois on Tuesday, defeating former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and gaining more than 40 delegates in the race to become the U.S. Republican presidential candidate.

With more than 99 percent of precincts reporting, front-runner Romney won 47 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 35 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who did not campaign as much in Illinois as their opponents, won 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

“Thank you, Illinois! What a great night!” Romney told his supporters at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel near Chicago after U.S. networks projected he would win the presidential primary. “Elections are about choices. And today hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters have joined millions across the country in our cause.”

Illinois has a total of 69 delegates and 54 of them are tied to the primary and were at stake during the primary on Tuesday. Romney’s convincing victory, winning more than 428,000 out of nearly 910,000 votes, is expected to earn him at least 41 of those delegates and Santorum 10.

“Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney and all of the other victorious local Republican candidates on hard-fought victories today,” said Pat Brady, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “Now that we’ve had a spirited debate within our party, I urge all Illinois Republicans to unite behind all of our nominees for the November General Election.”

In a brief statement following the primary, Gingrich criticized Romney for ‘relying’ on outspending his opponents. “We need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures,” he said. “This is the type of leadership I can offer as the nominee, and this campaign will spend between now and when the delegates vote in Tampa relentlessly taking the fight to President Obama to make this case.”

Also on Tuesday, Romney won the support of Aguadilla Mayor Carlos Méndez who is also the chairman of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico. With the support of Méndez, who was previously a supporter of Gingrich, Romney has now won all 23 delegates at stake in the U.S. territory.

“While I originally supported Newt Gingrich and still believe that he can be a leader in our party, it is time that Republicans unite behind one candidate,” Méndez said in a statement. “Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly supported Governor Romney [during the primary] on Sunday and it is clear that he is the most capable candidate to bring jobs to Puerto Rico and fix the mess in Washington, DC.”

A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination. According to a CNN count, Romney is currently leading with a total of 562 delegates. Santorum has 249 delegates, Gingrich has 137 and Paul has 69. The winner will face incumbent President Barack Obama on November 6.

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