More Bad News for Newt

Newt Gingrich’s effort to revive his faltering presidential campaign may have been mortally wounded yesterday by a federal appeals court decision that postpones the Texas Presidential Primary which Gingrich was counting on to pull him almost equal to Mitt Romney in delegates by April 3.  “It appears, based on all things that are going on here, that it is extremely unlikely there will be a primary in April or, for that matter, before May 29,” said U.S. Appeals Court Judge Jerry Smith. He told party leaders to instruct candidates and to plan as if May 29 would be the primary date, although he didn’t make it official.

Texas has 155 delegates that will be proportionally distributed.  Gingrich hoped to win a substantial number of those delegates, to go with his hoped-for wins in Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana during the month of March.  Taking Texas out-of-the mix will mean a long slog through April and May into states that will favor Romney and Santorum.

Moving the Texas primary to May 29, also means that it will be virtually impossible for any candidate to earn enough delegates to lock up the nomination before June 3, when California with 172 delegates and four other states with an additional 120 delegates cast their ballots.  Only 1792 delegates will have been awarded prior to March 29, which means that to wrap up the nomination, a candidate would have to win over 60% of the allocated delegates to get to the required total of 1144.

This decision clearly favors Rick Santorum at this point.  If Gingrich can be driven from the race before Texas votes, Santorum would have a significant advantage over Romney in a head-to-head match-up.  A Santorum win in Texas would also give him a big momentum boost going into the California primary the next week.  And this decision certainly makes it appear that California’s winner-take-all primary will ultimately determine who wins the Republican nomination for President.