Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul won the Tennessee Republican Assembly straw poll Saturday. The Texas congressman garnered 200 votes in the straw poll, besting his fellow Republican presidential candidates by more than 100 votes each.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum pulled in 62 votes to finish in second place. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earned 38 votes to secure a third place finish and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney brought in 15 votes to finish in fourth place.
Despite Mr. Paul’s victory in the Tennessee straw poll, the former Air Force surgeon did not receive an endorsement from the Tennessee Republican Assembly.
According to The Tennessean, Mr. Santorum received the Tennessee Republican Assembly’s endorsement after the Pennsylvania Republican received the most votes from dues-paying members during the endorsement process.
Glen Hughes, President of the Tennessee Republican Assembly, reacted to some confusion in the media about the straw polls results and Mr. Santorum’s victory in a statement on the group’s website.
“I want to thank the many Ron Paul supporters who purchased straw poll tickets and showed up to make their choice heard for their candidate in the Straw Poll,” Mr. Hughes wrote.
Mr. Hughes went on to explain that cases of one candidate winning the straw poll and the other candidate winning the endorsement are not unusual. In fact, the National Federation of Republican Assemblies Annual Convention in Des Moines Iowa in October 2011 also resulted in a straw poll victory for Mr. Paul and an endorsement from the group for Mr. Santorum.
Mr. Hughes also described why he thought that Mr. Paul had won the straw poll, but failed to secure the endorsement. “The Tennessee Straw Poll was dominated by Ron Paul supporters. This is what they do. Each individual will typically purchase multiple straw poll tickets and go to events en masse for the purpose of winning the straw poll,” Mr. Hughes professed.
Although Mr. Hughes noted his admiration for the passion of Mr. Paul’s supporters, he posited that if the Texas congressman’s supporters “had chosen to be a member of the TRA they could have participated in the endorsement process and have had one vote per member.”
“To say that for the cost of a straw poll ticket someone should be allowed to influence the official endorsement of a group, of which they are not a member, is beyond my comprehension,” Mr. Hughes added.
Mr. Paul also won the Arizona Republican Party straw poll over the weekend with 256 votes.
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