Politics
Fred Karger, left, and Buddy Roemer, right.  (Photos: AP) Fred Karger, left, and Buddy Roemer, right. (Photos: AP)  

Top-tier candidates defeated by long-shot candidates in GOP Puerto Rico primary

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney might have won all 20 of Puerto Rico’s primary delegates over the weekend, but the placement of the runners up offered an alternative glimpse into the race. Namely, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished behind no-shot candidates.

Buddy Roemer, the former governor of Louisiana who pulled out of the GOP race in February to seek the Reform Party nomination, is currently placing third in the vote count, with 83 percent of the vote in — ahead of both Gingrich and Paul.

Fred Karger, the self-proclaimed first openly gay Republican presidential candidate, who has never held office, is currently ahead of Paul.

While neither Gingrich nor Paul campaigned in the U.S. territory ahead of the election, the results gave at least Karger, who had yet to beat a top tier candidate in a primary, a reason to celebrate.

“We spent the past 6 days campaigning hard in Puerto Rico and it worked,” Karger said in a statement. “Ron Paul has been in all 20 debates, raised $35 million, and has 80% name identification and it looks like we beat him with our message of jobs now, moderation and inclusion.”

Karger plans to return “home” to California to campaign for the June 5 primary.

“We definitely have some Big Mo = Momentum, going into the remaining state primaries,” he said.

Roemer, who has been running to highlight the corrupting influence of money in politics, explained when he dropped out of the GOP race in February that one of his biggest challenges was name recognition.

Roemer told TheDC Monday that the support he received in Puerto Rico shows a that his message is resonating.

“I appreciate the voters of Puerto Rico for their support. It shows my message of ending corruption and the way Washington politics works is resonating,” he said. “I didn’t even have to pander to the Hispanic community like both sides of the aisle like to do come election time.”  (SEE ALSO: Romney trounces rivals in Puerto Rico)

With 83 percent of the precincts reporting, Puerto Rico was a blow out for Romney, who beat former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum 82.88 to 8.02 percent. Roemer came in third with 2.21 percent, Gingrich fourth with 2.05 percent, Karger fifth with 1.43 percent and Paul last with 1.22 percent.

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