It appears the Connecticut Republican presidential primary on April 24 will mean something. When this process began, many political observers expected a clear front runner would emerge and be so far ahead by the end of Super Tuesday, March 6, that the nominating race would be effectively over.
For a time it appeared that front runner and eventual nominee would be former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. However, the "Massachusetts Moderate," as challenger Newt Gingrich likes to label him, appears to be faltering.
With nine state primary and caucuses finished, Romney and Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, both have four victories, and Gingrich one. Romney leads with 123 delegates out of 248 awarded, about 11 percent of the 1,114 delegates he needs to win, according to the website 2012 Election Central.
In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal did the math and concluded the nominating race will likely continue at least into June (California, with 172 delegates, votes June 5). All four candidates, the fourth being libertarian oriented Ron Paul, appear intent on remaining in the race for the long haul.
When it comes to attracting candidate interest April 24, Connecticut faces tough competition. Republicans in New York, with 95 delegates, and Pennsylvania, with 72 and a reputation as a key swing state in presidential elections, also vote that day. Connecticut's relative proximity to those big states, however, could persuade the candidates to stop by for visits and try to pick up some of Connecticut's 28 delegates. The closer the race, the more important those few delegates become.
This extended contest raises all kinds of questions and possibilities. Should socially conservative Republicans pick the guy most consistently in line with their views, Santorum, or go with Romney because he is more likely to pick up votes from moderates in the general election against President Obama? Do Republicans want a guy who will be out to destroy Obama with his vitriolic rhetoric — Gingrich — or Romney, who could be vulnerable if he attacks the president on the Affordable Care Act, since Massachusetts passed similar legislation while he was governor?
There is some talk of this race actually heading to the Republican Convention Aug. 27 in Tampa without a candidate having a delegate majority. That's probably the wishful thinking of some journalists pining for a newsworthy convention, rather than the stage show modern conventions have become. But the possibility, even if remote, is intriguing.
What ever happens, it looks like Connecticut Republicans will play a role.