Election 2012/Santorum wins
12:53 am
Wed February 8, 2012

Santorum wins big in Missouri

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum racked up a sizeable victory in Missouri's Republican primary last night, winning all 114 counties and the city of St. Louis and beating his nearest rival, Mitt Romney, by 30 points. Final unofficial results from the Secretary of State showed Santorum more than doubling Romney's vote total.

Turnout was abysmal - 8 percent for both the Democratic and Republican contests. Thanks to intra-party bickering, the results aren't binding - delegates will be awarded at caucuses next month. And Newt Gingrich wasn't even on the ballot.

Despite all that, Santorum called the results a victory for the voices of the Republican party.

"Conservatives and Tea Party people who are out there every single day in the vineyards building the conservative movement in this country, building the base of the Republican party, building a voice of freedom in this land," he told a small but boisterous crowd of supporters at the St. Charles Convention Center.

A number of Missouri's Republicans, including Sen. Roy Blunt and former Senator and Gov. Jim Talent, endorsed Romney. But Santorum called himself the only candidate really able to make a distinction between himself and President Obama on crucial issues such as health care and the environment.

"You listened to our message, and you found out that on those issues, Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama," Santorum said. "I don’t stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama."

Former St. Charles County executive Joe Ortwerth, who now heads the Missouri affiliate of James Dobson's conservative advocacy group, said the night's results show once again that the "Show-Me" state likes to send strong messages.

"And today, the Show-Me State declared that the Midwest and the people of the Midwest, are looking for a candidate with genuine conservative credentials, and Rick Santorum is that man," Ortwerth said, calling Santorum the true heir to the mantle of Ronald Reagan.