Gingrich to challenge Florida results

2012-02-03 08:45

Las Vegas - Newt Gingrich announced on Thursday a challenge to how many delegates were won in the Republican Party's Florida primary, in which he was soundly beaten by frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Gingrich campaign officials said the appeal questions whether all of Florida's 50 delegates to the Republican convention in August should go to Romney, under the winner-takes-all system.

"I'm told by the lawyers that it's pretty clear, that it's supposed to be proportional," Gingrich told Fox News television, stressing that the appeal is being made not by him but by delegates in Florida.

"That means that Romney's advantage, instead of being 50 delegates, will be about a net of 10, and that makes a huge difference. I suspect it'll be a fight," he said.

The Republican National Committee had already slashed Florida's delegates to the convention in half after the state flouted the election calendar and moved up its primary before April 1.

After four state contests - in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida - Romney is the clear frontrunner to win the nomination, for which he must have a total of 1 144 delegates.

Loser's challenge

Florida was the biggest prize so far, with 50 delegates under the winner-take-all system - unless the Gingrich camp's appeal to a Republican party system is successful.

Under Republican Party bylaws any state holding a primary or caucus before April 1 must do so on a proportional basis. Any state which refuses to abide by that rule has its number of delegates halved.

Bill McCollum, Gingrich's Florida co-chair and the state's former attorney general, vowed to make the case to the Republican Party's contest committee, and appeal beyond there if need be.

"If this is a close thing if we go to the convention it will be taken to the credentials committee and possibly to the convention floor," he told Fox News.

Asked if he would make such a challenge if Gingrich had won Florida, he said: "No. But Romney would be. And so you've got to really realise that whoever is going to lose is going to make this challenge."