Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Ind.'s Role in GOP Race Is Unknown May 8 Primary Can Lead to Close Contest

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Ind.'s Role in GOP Race Is Unknown May 8 Primary Can Lead to Close Contest

Article excerpt

It's still considered a long shot, but local Republicans are allowing themselves to think Indiana just might be a player in the party's unpredictable presidential nomination contest.

A competitive presidential primary on May 8 could give the GOP what Democrats enjoyed in 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton barnstormed the state in an unexpectedly pivotal intraparty election punctuated by furious campaigning in Evansville. For seven weeks before the primary, Obama and Clinton took their battle into high school gymnasiums, union halls, stadiums and town squares, in communities unaccustomed to seeing presidential candidates in the flesh.

Could it happen for Republicans this time? The short answer is: Maybe.

Nick Hermann pointed to new Republican primary rules under which some states will award convention delegates proportionally instead of through a winner-take-all system.

"That's the only real hope that it gets here," said Hermann, Vanderburgh County GOP chairman from 2007 to 2010 and an alternate at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

"You still need the same number of delegate votes (at least 1,142) to win, but if your second and third-place finishers are getting a share of the votes, it's going to take more races," he said.

And that could prolong the process of crowning a nominee long enough that the race could still be staggering forward uncertainly by May 8.

Political analysts have pointed to the failure of perceived frontrunner Mitt Romney to cement his status by creating a sense of inevitability that he will be nominated. Meanwhile, other candidates have taken turns emerging as possible alternatives to Romney, only to fall back into the pack.

With the Iowa caucuses kicking off the nomination battle Tuesday, Indiana's contest, a full four months off, ordinarily would come too late to make a difference. By that time, more than 1,500 delegates will already have been awarded in primaries and caucuses in other states. …

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