Washington, March 23 (IANS) Former senator Rick Santorum easily won the Republican presidential primary in Indian American governor Bobby Jindal's home state of Louisiana, somewhat slowing down frontrunner Mitt Romney's apparently inevitable march towards nomination.
Winning close to majority of the vote in Saturday's poll with a nearly 2-1 lead over former Massachusetts governor Romney, Santorum got a much needed boost from his fourth win in the South, but it's unlikely to have much impact on the end result.
Romney, who has not been able to connect with conservative voters in the Southern region, won a little over 25 percent of the vote, while Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 16 percent and Texas Representative Ron Paul had just 6 percent
Winning Louisiana big will help fuel Santorum's campaign as the conservative alternative to Romney, but it does not alter the delegate math much.
Only 20 delegates were up for grabs on Saturday, with 26 more to be allocated later. Even if Santorum with 251 delegates from 10 previous wins were to claim most of them, he would still have only half the 563 delegates that Romney already has.
A total of 1,144 delegates are needed to secure the Republican nomination ahead of the party's convention in Tampa, Florida, at the end of August to challenge President Barack Obama in the November presidential poll.
The Republican candidates face off again on April 3 with contests in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Romney's win last week in Illinois, as well as his subsequent endorsement by Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, dimmed Santorum's political prospects. But in a fund-raising letter sent out Saturday night, Santorum said the results in Louisiana had sent "shock waves" through the political world.
"Tonight with our strong victory in Louisiana, our campaign has now won 11 states, tying a record and proving we can win in the West, South and Midwest," the letter said. "Not since Ronald Reagan in 1976 has a conservative candidate won as many states as we have."
Gingrich's third-place performance in Louisiana was an embarrassing setback for a candidate who had hoped to perform well in Southern states to rescue his flailing candidacy. But, despite his poor showing, Gingrich seems intent on staying in the race.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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