Erstwhile presidential candidate Rick Perry recently met with Rick Santorum in Austin. What the two Ricks discussed was not immediately known, and Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan was coy about the matter: “We viewed it was a courtesy visit,” Sullivan told CNN. “Perry remains a Newt backer.”
The meeting happened mere hours before Romney bested Santorum in the Maryland, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C primaries, CNN’s Kevin Bohn and Ashley Killough noted. With these losses, the call for Santorum to bow of the race is getting louder, but the former Pennsylvania senator has maintained that it is Newt Gingrich who should leave the trail.
Texas is emerging as part of Santorum’s Hail Mary strategy to winning the nomination. His campaign has maintained that he could win if Texas becomes a “winner-take-all” state, where all delegates are assigned to the winner, instead of being doled out proportionally.
Some 155 delegates are up for grabs, so that switch, if it happens, would make Texas “one of the biggest prizes of the year,” according to the The Fix, the Washington Post‘s political blog.
And some Republicans in Texas are devising a strategy to do just that, in hopes it would make the state a deciding factor in the presidential race.
“This race is much closer than the media and establishment Republicans would like to report and events such as Texas are dramatically changing the future landscape in a manner that is positive to Rick Santorum and negative for Mitt Romney,” John Yob, Santorum’s “delegate expert” wrote in a memo released Thursday.
TEXAS MONTHLY‘s Paul Burka was unconvinced on the soundness of this strategy, writing on Friday:
Uh, guys, maybe you haven’t heard the news, but the entire political universe knows that the race for the Republican presidential nomination is over and Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. Did you miss the Wisconsin primary, by any chance? It was on CNN. And the Republican National Committee has said that the Texas primary will be proportional, notwithstanding the current effort to change the rules to winner-take-all. As for rescuing the Texas primary from potential irrelevancy, it’s way too late for that. It’s been irrelevant since the courts set the date for May 29. Let’s suppose that the SREC does change the rules and there is a winner-take-all primary, and the RNC says it’s OK, and Santorum wins. Romney would still be assured of being the nominee. If Santorum comes to Texas to campaign, it will be nothing more than an ego trip.
The significance of the story is that it reveals that divisions remain in the Texas Republican Party, and that pockets of resistance to Romney as the GOP nominee still exist.
Burka revisited the topic Saturday after the Texas Eagle Forum jumped into the fray in support of the state adopting a winner-take-all Republican presidential primary. Burka noted that five prominent conservatives signed onto the email pushing for the switch, including David Barton, the former vice president of the Republican Party of Texas, and Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans. Despite this prominent support, Burka remained unconvinced of the plan’s prospects:
If successful, which I doubt it will be, the main impact of moving to a winner-take-all primary will be to weaken the national Republican party’s attempt to defeat Barack Obama. It is quite remarkable that these prominent Republicans regard as their primary mission the defeat of another Republican. Following a similar effort Friday by Weston Martinez, a supporter of Rick Santorum, to get the State Republican Executive Committee to change the primary to a winner-take-all format, it’s a good indication of just how far out of the national Republican mainstream the state Republican party is.