Huffpost Politics

Mitt Romney Beats Rick Santorum In Michigan Delegate Race: 16-14

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A Michigan Republican committee voted Thursday to award 16 of the state's 30 nominating delegates to the Republican National Convention to Mitt Romney, and the remaining 14 to Rick Santorum.

According to MIRS, the committee voted 4-2 to give Romney Michigan's two at-large delegates.

The move came after Michigan's Tuesday Republican presidential primary showed the candidates splitting the state's delegates, though Romney won the popular vote.

Michigan Republicans award delegates based on congressional districts -- two for each of the state's 14 districts -- and two more awarded by the state-wide vote.

The Associated Press reported Thursday morning that Romney and Santorum would split the delegates evenly, 15 apiece. The Santorum campaign called the Michigan primary a tie for that reason.

But following the announcement, Michigan Radio reports that the Santorum campaign called foul play:

A spokesman for top rival Rick Santorum says the decision by party leaders calls into question the "legitimacy" of the Michigan Republican Party.

The committee vote Thursday afternoon gives an edge to Romney, and shows the former Massachusetts governor and Michigan native's influence in the state Republican Party. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder endorsed Romney in the primary, and other prominent party officials supported his campaign and attended his Tuesday victory party.

Former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who chairs the state GOP credentials committee, reportedly told MIRS the party decided to change the rules on delegate appointment. Cox was among those state party officials who endorsed Romney.

"It's kind of like Third World voting," Cox said. "We published rules and then we voted to change the rules."

UPDATE: 2:45 p.m. -- Republican National Committeeman Saul Anuzis released a statement claiming the party did not change any of its rules in deciding to award the at-large delegates to Romney:

Last night the Credentials Committee met via teleconference and voted to apply the rules as passed unanimously on February 4th which results in the 2 at large delegates be awarded to the statewide winner, Mitt Romney.
There were no changes in rules or procedures, the Credential Committee only ratified the existing rules as previously passed after some made erroneous claims to the media that the at-large delegates would be split.

Despite Anuzis' insistence, some Republican activists quickly launched a petition campaign Thursday afternoon, looking to "stop the corruption at the highest levels of the Michigan Republican Party."

"In what was literally a middle of the night, smoke-filled backroom, the Establishment of the Michigan Republican Party voted to ignore its own Rules (which were submitted to the Republican National Committee on February 7, 2012) and to ignore the results of Tuesday's Primary Election."

According to the petitioners, Santorum should have gotten one at-large delegate and Romney the other, based on the candidates' close results in the statewide popular vote. Romney got 41 precent of the overall vote to Sanotorum's 38 percent.

UPDATE: 4:20 p.m. -- Hogan Gidley, Santorum's national communications director, released the following statement:

"There's just no way this is happening. We've all heard rumors that Mitt Romney was furious that he spent a fortune in his home state, had all the political establishment connections and could only manage [to] tie Rick Santorum. But we never thought the Romney campaign would try to rig the outcome of an election by changing the rules after the vote. This kind of back room dealing political thuggery just cannot and should not happen in America."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article erroneously identified Mike Cox as the chair of the Michigan GOP. He heads the state GOP's credentials committee.

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