The silent Republican primary

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By Nick DAngelo

The New York presidential primary was neither interesting nor exciting. Prior to the April 24 vote, open to all registered Republicans, the primary was described by the New York Times as becoming “less significant” every four years. Because New York is a Democratic stronghold in the electoral college and has a primary scheduled for so late in the season, it is not the mandatory hub for candidates that other states are.

That being said, New York still had a fair amount of play in the lead up to the not-so-super Super Tuesday vote. While Mitt Romney was consistently the favorite amongst the state GOP, earning early endorsements from Rep. Nan Hayworth and Governor George Pataki, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul made a semi-serious attempt at winning the state.

In November 2011, former Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino made headlines by supporting Gingrich, then at the height of his popularity. While Gingrich did better in the Paladino stronghold of Erie County, he was still duped by double-digits. Statewide, Romney took away 63 percent of the vote; Paul came in second with a distant 15 percent.

So what is the significance of the election no one cared about and even fewer knew about? It provided the unmistakable establishment shift that Romney had been lacking throughout the campaign.

Even Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who called the former Massachusetts governor as an “unparalleled flip-flopper” only four months ago, came out with a strong endorsement.

With Santorum and Gingrich officially out, the brokered convention that political enthusiasts had hoped for will have to wait until 2016.

Like most primary fights, the 2012 cycle strengthened Romney’s candidacy. Usually seen as a lackluster speaker, Romney became passionate during the past year, showing a side voters had yet to see. His victory speech Tuesday night was one of the strongest he’s given, focusing on the Americana themes that enliven the Republican base.

Criticizing President Obama for steering the general election debate away from the economy, Romney’s signature line became, “It is still about the economy—and we’re not stupid,” a spinoff of Clinton adviser James Carville’s famous 1992 line. It’s worth adding that Clinton was the last candidate to defeat a sitting president.

The New York primary, as usual, occupied an “also-ran” status. The last time New York was carried by a Republican was Reagan’s 49-state landslide in 1984, making the general election even bleaker for any New Yorker remotely interested in presidential politics.

But April 24 provided the jolt Republicans needed to make an active effort in supporting their now-certain nominee through November.

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