Santorum takes Minnesota Republican presidential straw poll


Click here to read about the straw poll at Republican caucuses in Elk River.

by Tim Budig

ECM Capitol reporter

Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum convincingly won the Minnesota Republican caucus presidential straw poll on Tuesday (Feb. 8), taking about 45 percent of the vote.

Santorum also won the Colorado caucus presidential straw poll yesterday, and the Missouri primary.

A shoal of area Republican lawmakers rank among Santorum’s Minnesota supporters, including senators David Thompson, David Hann, Paul Gazelka, Dan Hall, Sean Nienow, Benjamin Kruse, and David Brown.

Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls, is also listed among Minnesota supporters by the Santorum campaign.

Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum and his wife Karen in a family portrait along with their seven children. Santorum won Minnesota's Republican caucus presidential straw poll last night. (Santorum campaign photo)

Texas Congressman Ron Paul finished second last night in Minnesota capturing about 27 percent of the vote. Former governor Mitt Romney and former House Speak Newt Gingrich took about 17 percent and 11 percent of the vote, respectively.

Romney — often depicted as the frontrunner in the race — made a campaign appearance last week in Eagan along with former Republican governor and supporter Tim Pawlenty.

Reportedly, the Romney campaign was depicting the results of yesterday’s Minnesota caucus and the presidential voting in other states taking as inconsequential.

According to Politico, Romney political director Rich Beeson characterized  the contests as sideshows.

“It is difficult to see what Governor Romney’s opponents can do to change the dynamics of the race in February,” said Beeson in a memo, Politico reported.

“No delegates will be awarded on Feb. 7 — Colorado and Minnesota hold caucuses with non-binding preference polls, and the Missouri primary is purely a beauty contest,” he said.

But Hamline University Professor and political pundit David Schultz in his blog argues yesterday’s Santorum wins has taken more of the luster off Romney.

“With the three wins yesterday Santorum’s victories raise big questions about Romney’s inevitability and momentum,” wrote Schultz.

“Overall, there is little Mitt can point to yesterday that indicates victory, momentum, or that he is consolidating his support among conservatives.  The three states yesterday featured the hardcore conservative base and they are still not with him,” Schultz concludes.

Minnesota Democratic Party State Chairman Ken Martin struck a similar tone.

“What is clear in Minnesota is what is clear across the country in the GOP primary – the more people learn about Mitt Romney’s failed economic record and poll-driven policy platforms, the less they will support him,” he said in a statement.

Santorum and Paul yesterday were treading the home ground of Sixth Congressional District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, former presidential challenger who dropped out of the race after a poor showing in the Iowa caucus.

The congresswoman recently announced she was running for re-election to Congress.

According to “The Hill,” Bachmann, when recently asked during an interview about the remaining presidential candidates’ conservative credentials, left little doubt who stood out foremost in her mind.

“I was the perfect candidate,” Bachmann told Bloomberg TV’s Al Hunt.

In other action yesterday, the Independence Party of Minnesota (IP) caucus-goers voted on a couple of front page Minnesota issues, the Vikings’ stadium and proposed same-sex marriage ban constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

In regard to the amendment, IP caucus-goers rejected it with about 81 percent of the vote.

The Vikings not only had a bad regular season but also a bad caucus night, at least as far the IP is concerned.

About 61 percent of IP caucus-goers didn’t want to see any government funding at any level go towards building a new stadium.

“The Independence Party of Minnesota is devoted to reforming politics as usual in 2012,” said IP Chairman Mark Jenkins in a statement.

“Our party will spend the year focused on truly innovative solutions to the issues facing Minnesotans,” he said.

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