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Pa. GOP leaders to endorse Romney, feared Santorum at top of ticket

 

Pennsylvania Republican leaders say they are giving Rick Santorum his day, but NBC News has learnd that Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason is calling Mitt Romney to coordinate an endorsement as early as tomorrow.

They are leaving it up to the Romney camp to decide on timing of endorsements, but local officials want to do it as soon as possible.

They say there was real concern within the state party about Santorum, given how badly he lost his last statewide race. Despite loyalty to Santorum for building the party in years past, party officials said that with Santorum at the top of the ticket, they feared losing critical statewide contests including: U.S. Senate (whoever wins the primary fight to run against Democratic incumbent Bob Casey), Attorney General, Auditor General, and State Treasurer.

They also picked up five more GOP members of Congress and are defending legislative seats: 112 out of 203 in the state house and 30 senators of the 50 state senators.

Looking toward the general election, Republicans are at a one-million voter registration disadvantage in the state, but they see a big plus in the new statewide voter ID law. The new law requires a government ID or a student ID that has an expiration date. Many schools have photo IDs without expiration dates, so students without driver's licenses or another government ID would not be able to vote.

Pennsylvania's primary is a complex one -- a popular vote "beauty contest" with specific delegates running without candidate affiliation.

Romney supporters in the state party dominated the delegate-selection process so far. Each delegate running needs enough money to campaign in an area with 750,000 potential voters, so it is expensive.

Party officials estimate that Ron Paul has gotten at least 10 people on the ballot to run for delegate.