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Today’s primary election will be relatively uncontested at the presidential level but highly contested for a Pennsylvania Senate seat.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the clear front runner in the presidential race and will almost certainly win the Republican nomination. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the other two contenders, trail far behind in the delegate count.
Romney has 697 delegates to Gingrich’s 137 and Paul’s 67, according to The New York Times. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Pennsylvania has 72 delegates.
Although Gingrich and Paul will not likely win the nomination, they remain in the race to “have influence at the [Republication National] Convention,” Political Science professor and Undergraduate Chair John Lapinski wrote in an email.
“Ron Paul is more of a niche movement than he is a candidate,” Dick Polman, political columnist and blogger for The Philadelphia Inquirer and public media service WHYY, wrote in an email. Paul represents the small, libertarian faction of the Republican Party which supports a very small government and opposes United States intervention abroad, according to the Writer in Residence at Penn. By continuing to accumulate delegates, Paul is hoping to get some say in the party’s platform.
At 68 years old, Gingrich will not likely be able to run for president again and is using the race to “get some attention,” Polman wrote. “He figures that he can leverage whatever delegates he has to get a speaking slot at the convention.”
Both Gingrich and Paul will likely win some of the Pennsylvania vote, according to Lapinksi.
The primary could have been hotly contested had former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum not dropped out of the race on April 10.
“Santorum pulled out in order to avoid the embarrassment of his second home-state loss in six years,” Polman speculated.
He added that, “it will be hard to ascribe much meaning to the Pa. primary … because most Republicans won’t bother to turn out.”
Before withdrawing, Santorum would not likely have been able to win the delegates required to get the nomination. The possibility of losing his home state would also have been a large embarrassment and may have been a motivating factor in his withdrawal.
Lapinski wrote that Santorum might win the “protest vote” because people might write him in.
However, the race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat is anything but set in stone. According to NBC Philadelphia, over $5 million has been spent on the Republican senatorial race.
Five Republicans are vying for the nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. Casey defeated two-time senatorial incumbent Santorum in the 2006 election.
Today’s primary will serve as a “dry run” for the controversial voter identification law, according to Committee of Seventy Vice President and Policy Director Ellen Kaplan. The law will be enforced by the November elections.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are planning to challenge the law.
Poll workers will ask voters to present valid photo ID today. Those without valid ID will still be permitted to vote but will have the new rules explained to them.
Valid photo IDs include passports, Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and student ID cards issued by an accredited Pennsylvania college or university. IDs must have an expiration date to be valid.
Primaries will also take place today in Delaware, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
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