Rick Santorum, trying to keep his presidential hopes alive despite increasingly long odds, is looking for the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass from Texas Republicans. A group of Texas party activists, led by Santorum supporters, are waging an uphill battle to change the rules of the May 29 primary so that whoever wins would get all 152 delegates up for grabs in the contest. The activists say they have enough support to force an emergency meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee, though major hurdles loom beyond that. The Republican National Committee would have to approve the last-ditch move to change the delegate selection process because of the late date of the request, officials say. An RNC official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday that would be highly unlikely. Later, the RNC communications director, Sean Spicer, said there is “no basis” for a change and that Texas would “remain a proportional state,” according to a posting on Twitter from The Washington Post. The change might also require approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Under current rules, Texas Republicans award their delegates proportionately, depending on the percentage that each candidate receives in the primary. That means former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney can count on a big share of the delegates even if Santorum wins a majority of the Texas primary vote.
For Santorum, changing to a winner-take-all scenario in Texas — were he to win the state — could change the dynamics of a presidential race he appears destined to lose at this point.
“Now that is a game-changer for us,” Santorum said Wednesday on The Dom Giordano Program, a Pennsylvania radio show. He said that with all of the Texas delegates, and perhaps some delegates who would defect from former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, “all of sudden this race doesn’t become as long a shot as the media would tend to dictate.” Santorum said he favors changing Texas to winner-take-all.
Texas has a total of 155 delegates. Of that, 152 are awarded to the candidates based on the primary vote. Another three are “superdelegates” — party honchos who can vote for the candidate of their choice. It takes 1,144 delegates to win the party’s presidential nomination.