AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s Republican Party says Mitt Romney’s narrow win over Ron Paul in the state’s presidential caucuses will stand for now, even as Republicans in one eastern county whose caucus was postponed due to bad weather are proceeding with a rescheduled vote.
State Party Chairman Charlie Webster said Monday that Saturday’s caucus results won’t be altered at least until the state committee takes up the matter at its March 10 meeting. In the meantime, Republicans in Washington County, where a snowstorm forced a postponement, will hold their caucuses Saturday, Feb. 18.
Washington County GOP Chairman Chris Gardner said the county’s results will be posted after they are counted.
“The fact of the matter is we’re going to hold our vote, we’re going to announce the results and the media can do its own math,” said Gardner. “Regardless of who wins, those votes need to be counted and that’s what we’re doing.”
Results of the straw poll showed Romney with 39.2 percent of the votes, Paul with 35.7 percent, Rick Santorum with 17.7 percent and Newt Gingrich with 6.3 percent, after the tallies were made public Saturday. The caucus results represent a snapshot; Maine’s delegates to the national convention will be decided in May.
Webster said after the former Massachusetts governor’s win was announced that no more votes would be counted, infuriating Paul supporters who felt it disenfranchised Republicans in Washington County. Paul, the Texas congressmen, even suggested that he might pull off a tie if the Down East county’s votes are factored in.
Party leaders acknowledged that some mistakes elsewhere occurred in tallying votes, but the sum of the errors was not significant. In Waterville, the caucus contact person failed to phone in the results in time for Saturday’s announcement; in Portland, results for Romney and Paul were reversed when the state party released the figures, GOP officials said. But even when Portland’s numbers were corrected, Paul ended up with a net loss, said Patrick Calder, chairman of the Portland Republican City Committee.
Webster said he also doubts Washington County votes would change the result. “It’s inconceivable that enough votes could be cast to turn the county around,” Webster said.
Calls for counting all Maine caucus votes came from beyond Washington County.
Aroostook County Republican Chair Hayes Gahagan said Monday that all votes should be counted “as a matter of state and Republican Party integrity.” Aroostook County went 59 percent in favor of Paul, said Gahagan.
“If anything, this makes the case for Maine to switch from a caucus state to a primary state,” said Gahagan.
Associated Press writer David Sharp in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.