Santorum wins straw poll of Republicans in Tarrant

Posted Saturday, Feb. 04, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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HURST -- Tarrant County Republicans favored Rick Santorum over the other remaining presidential candidates at a straw poll and candidates fair Saturday.

Santorum won with 36 percent of more than 700 votes cast. Newt Gingrich came in second with 25 percent, followed by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, at 18 percent and Mitt Romney at 17 percent.

Excitement was high all day around the Santorum table at the Hurst Conference Center as supporters notified attendees that the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania will be in North Texas on Wednesday. Santorum is scheduled to speak to area pastors in McKinney that morning and at a rally in Plano in the evening, supporters said.

While Romney was easily winning caucuses Saturday in Nevada, Alice Linahan of Argyle said she and other Santorum backers were at the fair to reassure local Republicans that there's no chance of Santorum ending his candidacy.

"He's in it for the long haul," Linahan said. "He's not going out anytime soon."

At the Paul booth, Joe Palmer of Fort Worth said the main goal of supporters was to clarify the Texas congressman's foreign policy to local Republicans. Palmer said too many view Paul's stance as isolationist when noninterventionist is more accurate.

"There is a very big difference," Palmer said. "If you want to encourage trade and other communications with other countries, to me that would be very anti-isolationist. But to impose sanctions on countries like Cuba and Iran, to me that's very isolationist and that's what all the other candidates are offering us."

More than three dozen campaigns manned tables at the Hurst center for five hours and spoke one-on-one with well over 1,000 attendees.

A similar event was put on two years ago by a coalition of local grassroots groups, though candidates for Congress or statewide office weren't invited to set up booths. This time, the Tarrant County Republican Party hosted the event and allowed candidates in more races to participate.

Cruz wins Senate poll

Ted Cruz won the straw poll for the U.S. Senate race with 44 percent support. Cruz and other Senate candidates had volunteers staff tables on their behalf. Candidate Glenn Addison came from Magnolia outside Houston to meet with voters and came in fourth behind Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert.

"It was a no-brainer for me to come up here because you've got people from all over the county who came to seek out information about the candidates, and that tells me they're open-minded in most cases," Addison said. "I want to be where I can make the sale, so to speak."

Further down the ballot, there were more challengers than incumbents in attendance. Though Republicans had a banner year in 2010, many candidates at the fair said more incumbents need to be replaced because they aren't conservative enough.

'Time to clean house'

That kind of talk appealed to Randy King of Euless, a member of the NE Tarrant Tea Party who is unhappy with two local Republicans: U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant of Coppell and state Rep. Todd Smith of Euless.

Neither Marchant nor Smith was at the event but their respective primary opponents, Grant Stinchfield and Jonathan Stickland, were.

"I wanted to find out more about those competitors, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up voting for them because it's time to clean house," King said. "We've got a couple of career politicians that have been in government too long."

Aman Batheja, 817-390-7695

Twitter: @amanbatheja

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