Rick Santorum Could Miss Out on Key Ohio Delegates

GOP hopeful failed to submit full slate of delegates in nine Ohio congressional districts.

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Rick Santorum may be ineligible to compete for almost a quarter of Ohio's Super Tuesday delegates.

Ohio has been a winner-take-all contest since 1980, but this year the state will award delegates proportionally based on congressional districts. Each Republican candidate had to submit the names of three delegates and three alternate delegates—known as a "full slate of delegates"—from each of Ohio's 16 congressional districts to the state's central committee to be eligible to compete in those districts. Any registered Republican voter was eligible to be a delegate.

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Santorum failed to submit the names of any delegates in three of the state's congressional districts, including one which borders Pennsylvania, which he represented in the Senate for 12 years. He is in trouble in another six districts as well, as he failed to submit a full slate of delegates in those districts.

All told, the former Pennsylvania senator could miss out on 18 delegates, almost a quarter of the state's total of 66.

Chris Maloney, communications director for the Ohio Republican party, explains that Santorum can still compete in the six districts where he provided only a partial slate of delegates. "Should Senator Santorum receive a plurality of the vote in those congressional districts on election night," Maloney says, "he will be allocated as many delegates for those districts as he submitted delegate names. The additional delegates will then be unallocated until a point in time in which the procedure is determined by the Ohio Republican party state central committee."

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In that procedure, the state party chairman will choose three individuals from the state central committee to make a recommendation to the entire central committee on how to award those unallocated delegates. The committee will then determine how to allocate those delegates by a majority vote.

The deadline to register for Ohio's primary was December 30, more than a month before Santorum's sweep in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado on February 7, back when his campaign was far poorer and less organized. Santorum failed to make the ballot in Virginia, another Super Tuesday state, and he also didn't file full delegate slates in Tennessee, Illinois, and New Hampshire.

According to the latest poll from Public Policy Polling, the Ohio race is shaping up to be extremely close, with Romney leading Santorum by one percentage point, 37-36.

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