Romney takes Maine GOP caucus, Paul a close second

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LEWISTON — Maine Republicans backed front-runner Mitt Romney on Saturday in a narrow caucus vote.

“It was lots of energy, everybody (asking), ‘Who do you think?'” said Loretta Mikols, Oxford County state GOP committeewoman, who waited inside the packed Portland Regency to hear the news from Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster.

“When Mitt Romney was announced the room burst into quite a lot of cheering and clapping,” Mikols said.

The tally, with 83 percent of precinct results in: Romney 2,190; Paul 1,996; Rick Santorum, 989; and Newt Gingrich, 349.

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While Maine went for Romney, back-to-back visits in Lewiston paid off for Paul. Androscoggin County went for the Texas congressman, according to Rosemarie Butler, chairwoman of the Androscoggin County Republican Caucus.

Most towns in Maine held Republican caucuses between Feb. 4 and 11, but all 14 towns in Androscoggin County caucused Saturday at Geiger Elementary School.

“I was really quite thrilled with the turnout,” said Butler, of Lewiston.

The results in Androscoggin County: Paul, 212; Romney, 150; Santorum, 127; Gingrich, 12.

Paul visited Maine twice in recent weeks, barreling through six cities and towns in two days in late January and making three stops Saturday. He had hoped to secure his first win in the nomination process in Maine. Pundits had said that with his passionate volunteers, he had a shot.

Romney, who visited Sanford and Portland on Saturday, secured a boost for his campaign and won at least eight delegates, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Paul took seven. Six more are left to be committed.

Though some towns in Maine had yet to caucus, Webster said those tallies wouldn’t be counted and wouldn’t alter Saturday’s results. He planned to make town-by-town results available Tuesday.

Mikols, of Greenwood, cheered voter interest in her county. Oxford County caucused over five events.

“We had an amazing turnout and I rarely use that word — ‘amazing,'” she said. “We had no less than a 100-percent increase of turnout in almost every single one of our towns. It was so refreshing to see so many people come out.

“What I experienced all the way from Andover to Fryeburg, which included Porter and everywhere in between, everybody is excited about the process,” Mikols said. “I have no doubt they’ll stay involved or stay excited moving into November.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

In past caucuses, Maine went for:

(D – Democrats; R – Republicans)

2008 D: Barack Obama, R: Mitt Romney

2004 D: John Kerry, R: George W. Bush

2000 D: Al Gore, R: George W. Bush

1996 D: Bill Clinton, R: Bob Dole

1992 D: Jerry Brown/Paul Tsongas (close), R: George H.W. Bush

1988 D: Michael Dukakis, R: George H.W. Bush

Eventual national tickets:

2008 D: Barack Obama, R: John McCain

2004 D: John Kerry, R: George W. Bush

2000 D: Al Gore, R: George W. Bush

1996 D: Bill Clinton, R: Bob Dole

1992 D: Bill Clinton, R: George H.W. Bush

1988 D: Michael Dukakis, R: George H.W. Bush

Source: Newspaper archives, assorted websites, political analysts

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