Romney's Early Voting Victory -- in Wyoming
By Juliet Eilperin
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney scored a victory tonight in an early-voting state, Wyoming, by picking up eight out of the state's 14 available delegates.
Wyoming lies thousands of miles away from the New Hampshire battleground where Romney is fighting to keep his presidential hopes alive, and several of his GOP rivals did not campaign in the Cowboy State. Still, it's his first win.
"Today, the people of Wyoming took the first step towards bringing true conservative change to Washington," Romney said in a statement. "From Gillette to Jackson and Riverton to Cheyenne, my family and I have visited Wyoming many times, meeting with residents and addressing the issues most important to voters in the Cowboy State. We worked hard to earn the support of voters here, and I am honored to have won many of the first delegates awarded this primary season."
Wyoming moved up its county conventions in order to attract more attention from GOP presidential hopefuls, who have traditionally bypassed the small and solidly Republican state. Romney visited Wyoming twice last year -- as Natrona County GOP Chairman Bill Cubin put it, Romney "visited four cities, four towns, actually" -- and three of his sons campaigned there on his behalf. GOP presidential hopefuls Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson and Texas Rep. Ron Paul also visited the state on campaign swings.
"There's no doubt that Romney and his family coming to Wyoming has helped him here a great deal," said Cubin, son of Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.). But he added that Romney was also a "good fit" for the state. "Wyoming is the reddest of red states. In Wyoming we like our politicians conservative."
By the time the votes were counted, Romney had won eight delegates while Thompson picked up three and Hunter netted one. Twelve delegates were selected today, while another two will be apportioned in May at a statewide convention.
The Republican National Committee cut Wyoming's number of national convention delegates in half, to 14, in retaliation for its early voting, but Laramie County GOP Chairman Jerry Zellars said the decision to accelerate its caucuses still paid off.
"What we wanted to do is be able to go face to face with presidential candidates and be part of the process," Zellars said. "It turns out it's worked exactly like that."
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