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WV: GOP Contest Could Be Earliest to Report

By Rick Weiss
Only Republicans are casting votes in West Virginia on Tuesday (the Democrats will do so in May), but residents need not bother going out to the polls. The big event in this 30-delegate state is neither a primary nor a caucus but rather a "GOP Presidential Convention," which is not open to the public. Some 18 At-large Republican national delegates are at stake on Tuesday, with an additional 12 to be selected later.

Voting will be conducted by previously selected local delegates (about 1,200 of them have been certified from 55 counties) who must be present at the Charleston Civic Center's convention hall Tuesday in order to cast their votes through their county chairmen.

It is a winner-takes-all process, with a candidate needing simple majority of votes to win. If no candidate wins a majority on the first round, then a second ballot will be held among the top three from the first round. Finally, if needed, there will be a third ballot among the top two.

The GOP Convention's chief executive, Bob Fish, says he doesn't expect the process to take long. Indeed, West Virginia may be the first state to report final results, perhaps as early as 2:30 p.m.

Ron Paul was the top Republican fundraiser in West Virginia for the last quarter of 2007. But no major polls have been completed recently in this politically shifting state, a former Democratic stronghold that voted for George W. Bush in the past two elections. And more than 60 percent of Tuesday's voting delegates remain uncommitted, according to Fish, who said he believes that candidates who accept the state's invitation to make speeches there Tuesday morning stand the best chance of getting those undecided votes.

The state's only Republican member of Congress, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, will not endorse anyone before voting is complete.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 4, 2008; 8:29 PM ET
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