CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney added a small margin to his Super Tuesday victories by picking up four delegates in the first round of Wyoming’s Republican presidential caucuses.
A fifth delegate from the Cowboy State went to Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Romney edged former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by two votes to pick up his first Wyoming delegate in Laramie County, the state’s most populous. Big Horn, Natrona and Washakie counties also went for Romney. Republicans in Weston County near the Black Hills in the state’s northeastern corner pledged their delegate to Paul.
Tuesday’s voting launched a long state GOP process that will choose 29 delegates by the time it’s over at the Republican state convention in April.
Statewide, Romney won 57 percent of Tuesday’s caucus vote. Santorum won 33 percent, Paul 3 percent, and Gingrich 0 percent. Seven percent of the 487 caucus votes were uncommitted.
At the Laramie County caucus in Cheyenne, Jack Mueller was chosen as the Romney delegate and urged his fellow Republicans to unite against President Barack Obama this fall.
“We need to talk more about OMG,” Mueller said as he turned over a clipboard and read a bumper sticker on the back: “Obama Must Go.”
Another Laramie County caucus-goer, wearing black boots and a bolo tie, said he would prefer Santorum or Gingrich — but would settle for Romney as the nominee if it came to that.
“If Romney becomes the choice of the Republican Party, naturally I’ll vote for Romney because another four years of Obama … forget about it,” said Eric Miller of Cheyenne.
Wyoming has more Republican delegates than such states as Connecticut, Nevada and Oregon. Wyoming has a Republican governor, all-Republican congressional delegation and Republican majorities in its Legislature, all of which grant it additional delegates under Republican National Committee rules.
Still, no candidate has campaigned or run major advertising in the Cowboy State. While overwhelmingly Republican, Wyoming is geographically isolated from all of the other Super Tuesday states except Idaho, making it a costly and time-consuming place to campaign.
In 2008, Romney won eight of 12 delegates in the Wyoming caucuses, which were held in January in a bid to increase their influence. The national party docked Wyoming half of its 28 national convention votes that year because it broke party rules by moving up its caucus date.
Even then, Wyoming’s caucuses — sandwiched between Iowa and New Hampshire — drew little attention, and none of the major candidates visited.
Last month, Romney won a straw poll of registered Republicans at precinct caucuses and Santorum was a close second. The straw poll was nonbinding, however, and didn’t involve the same Republicans who vote for national delegates.
This week’s voters are party insiders who were chosen at the precinct caucuses.
On Wednesday, Niobrara County Republicans will choose another delegate. Republicans in Carbon, Lincoln, Johnson, Park, Platte and Sublette counties choose six delegates at county meetings scheduled Saturday.
Wyoming’s 11 other counties will send alternates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August. Fourteen at-large delegates will be chosen at next month’s Wyoming state convention, while Wyoming’s two Republican National Committee members and the state party chair are automatic national delegates.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)