Santorum drops out; voters in 19 states stranded
So, by April 10, barely four months into the campaign, Mitt Romney has the race for the Republican presidential nomination locked up.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and, despite his denials, the architect of a health-care plan that was a prototype for Obamacare, was not, it is safe to say, a GOP favorite.
But for a variety of reasons, the Republican superstars ― Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, all arguably with better party credentials than Romney ― declined to make the race. Unless they think Barack Obama is a lock for reelection in November and it is better to wait for 2016, they are perhaps kicking themselves for their timidity.
Romney's nomination became inevitable when Rick Santorum took himself out of the race Tuesday. He had hopes of winning his home state primary, April 24 in Pennsylvania, but even there Romney was leading him in key polls and, moreover, his three-year-old daughter, Bella, is gravely ill with a rare and often fatal genetic disorder.
Santorum showed amazing grit and determination to get as far as he did. His last political foray was an 18-point defeat in his 2006 race for a third Senate term, a margin that is usually a career-killer in elected politics.
He never had the money, manpower and organization of the Romney campaign, but he did, as he boasted in withdrawing from the race, win 11 states and millions of votes.
Two candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, remain in the race but neither comes even close to making a dent in Romney's now insurmountable lead in delegates.
It is one of the curious vagaries and failings of the U.S. system of primaries and caucuses that those 19 states that have yet to hold theirs effectively have no say in choosing their party's standard bearer.
And these are not inconsequential states: Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Nebraska, Oregon, Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and, finally, on June 26, Utah.
If not exactly disenfranchised, the voters in the post-April 10th states are certainly entitled to wonder, "Why bother?"
This article was published and distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.