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Obama, Gingrich lead pack in Liberty

Preliminary results show 2,492 voted Tuesday

POSTED: March 9, 2012 9:37 a.m.

While about one-third of Liberty County voters went blue in Tuesday’s Presidential Preference Primary, the rest opted for various shades of red.

According to an election summary report posted late Tuesday on the county’s website, about 10 percent, or 2,512 of the county’s 24,143 registered voters, turned out at the polls. A total of 2,492 ballots were cast Tuesday. Elections supervisor Ella Golden said the discrepancy likely exists because not all presenting voters completed the digital balloting process. The preliminary report does not include early voting or absentee ballots.

“We don’t certify until Friday,” Golden said Thursday.

Of those who cast ballots Tuesday, 33 percent asked for Democrat ballots and chose President Barack Obama. The other 77 percent requested Republican ballots, and those results were mixed.

Newt Gingrich, who served 20 years as a U.S. Representative for District 6 near Atlanta, took 40.22 percent of the county vote and 47.2 percent of the state preliminary vote. Mitt Romney, who captured six of 10 state primaries Tuesday, received 28.27 percent of votes in Liberty County and 25.9 percent statewide. Rick Santorum, who took three states, received 24.67 percent of Liberty County votes and 19.6 percent statewide.

Though he predicted Romney would carry the county, Liberty County Republican Party chairman John Wood said he is not surprised that Gingrich dominated, only that Romney did not perform better.

“Newt, on the other hand, Newt’s going to have some tough decisions to win in the next couple of weeks,” he said, adding he was also surprised about Santorum’s success.

“Yesterday was really interesting, you know, Santorum got almost as many votes as Romney here in Liberty County,” Wood said.

According to the Associated Press, Georgia was Gingrich’s sole victory on Super Tuesday, but he has pledged to “wait and see how the race goes” with contests in Alabama and Mississippi looming next week.

With 76 delegates to award, Georgia had the greatest number up for grabs Tuesday of any state. The delegates will be assigned according to a proportion of the vote.

Assessing the local Republican results, Wood said it’s a sign that the process of determining a candidate will not end as soon as once thought.

“I think we have to reaffirm our core beliefs as a party. We have to reaffirm that we are truly the party of limited government and get back to our bedrock, grassroots principals,” he said. “Our primary is going to determine who the candidate is, but ultimately, our platform determines who we are, and hopefully that candidate will fill the platform. … The most important thing is that, whoever comes out … we are behind them 100 percent and do everything we can to get them the White House in November.”

Liberty Democratic Committee secretary Sandy Burch said she was not surprised to see Gingrich take the county and state, or that votes were spread among Gingrich, Romney and Santorum.

“The main thing about Gingrich is, for some reason, they think he is a Georgia boy, but he just came here courtesy of the U.S. military,” she said, adding that she believes his father’s military assignments brought them to the state.
Burch said she was pleased with the outcome and did not anticipate that number of people voting Democrat, especially because their candidate is already decided in Georgia.

While the Georgia Democratic race was uncontested, officials in Oklahoma are reviewing party rules to determine if Obama lost a delegate to anti-abortion activist Randall Terry.

Obama received 57 percent of the Oklahoma vote, but the rest of the vote was fractured, with Terry receiving 18 votes, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Under party rules, Terry is eligible for a delegate because he got more than 15 percent of the statewide vote. Until Tuesday, Obama had won all Democratic delegates awarded so far.

Though Burch was not familiar enough with the Oklahoma situation to comment, she said she hopes the primary’s outcome is not an indicator of what’s to come.

“I just hope these numbers aren’t going to be an indication of what’s going to happen in the general election … I do hope that people come out and vote,” she said. “I hope they certainly come out Democratic.”

 

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