Mitt Romney has already had a caucus victory in Iowa undone. Could his win in Maine be next?
On Saturday, the Maine Republican Party released the results of a presidential preference straw poll that had been conducted over several weeks at municipal caucuses. The party declared Romney the winner by 194 votes over Ron Paul.
The result was immediately called into question by supporters of the Texas congressman, and for good reason — not all the votes were counted. The tally was made public even though most towns in Washington County had yet to caucus — their meetings were postponed because of snow — and will instead be held this weekend.
Furthermore, the results published by the Maine GOP had no votes recorded from another 200 cities and towns. Some of the smaller locales were not scheduled to hold caucuses, though many others did.
Pressure has been building on the state GOP leadership to recount the votes. Chairman Charles Webster had told the Portland Press Herald on Wednesday that he did not want to do so until the state committee met next month.
That stance may be changing. Politico reported Thursday that Maine Republican Party leaders have contacted local party officials to ask them to “reconfirm” the vote totals. A spokesman for the party could not be reached Thursday, but a statement on the caucuses will be released Friday.
Though it criticized how the state party conducted the vote, Paul’s campaign has said it would not seek a recount on its own. Spokesman Jesse Benton told USA Today the campaign wasn’t interested in having the party review the “meaningless, partial” vote.
Maine’s caucuses were the most poorly attended of any of the GOP contests to date, with only a few thousand people turning out. The straw poll conducted at the local meetings has no impact on how the state will ultimately award its 24 delegates. Most will be selected at district and state conventions in May.
Still, the Romney victory was cheered by his campaign, especially after a trio of losses earlier in the week — in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado — to Rick Santorum. On his Twitter feed, Romney wrote Saturday: “I thank the voters of Maine. I’m committed to turning around America & am heartened to have the support of so many.”
It was Santorum who defeated Romney in Iowa’s caucus on Jan. 3, declared the victor by 34 votes two weeks after initial tallies had declared Romney the winner.