By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to pick up more momentum for his presidential bid in neighboring Connecticut, one of several states holding Republican primary elections Tuesday.
Romney’s wife, Ann, visited the state on Monday, urging support for her husband and saying his message of fixing the economy and getting people back to work will resonate with the state’s voters. She was the keynote speaker at the Connecticut Republicans’ annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in Stamford.
Av Harris, spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said he is not expecting a high voter turnout for the primary due to the lack of competitiveness in the race at this point. He said in the last 30 years, the highest turnout in a Connecticut Republican presidential primary has only reached around 40 percent.
Thomas Pope, a poll worker in Coventry, said turnout was low, as expected, with around 45 voters showing up by 10:30 a.m. Despite this, he said voters that did turn out seemed enthusiastic about the fall election.
Pope said he expected more traffic in the afternoon, as people get out of work, especially since there was no morning rush.
Natalie Marek, of Coventry, who showed up to the polls with her husband, Stephen, said she’s excited about the race and the possibility of having Mitt Romney as president.
“I think he’ll just do well, he understands the issues, as far as business is concerned, and that’s where we need the most help in getting our economy going again.”
Coventry resident Lynne Cleary, however, said while she believes Romney stands out in the Republican field, she is not too excited about the election.
“There are so many questions about all of them, but he’s just the one that appealed to me most,” she said of the primary candidates.
A Quinnipiac University Poll released in March showed Romney winning 42 percent of the vote, followed by former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with 19 percent. Santorum has since suspended his campaign, but his name will appear on the ballot, along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Connecticut has 28 Republican delegates, and 25 will be selected on Primary Day. The remaining three include the state’s Republican National Committee members _ state GOP Chairman Jerry Labriola, state Rep. John Frey of Ridgefield and Patricia Longo of Wilton. All three have already announced they are backing Romney.
Under state party rules, a candidate who wins at least 50.1 percent of the vote will automatically win 10 delegates. The remaining 15 will be divided among the state’s five congressional districts and awarded to whoever wins the plurality in each district.
President Barack Obama is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
If Romney becomes the Republicans’ presidential candidate, challenging Obama in Connecticut could be difficult for him. The March Quinnipiac poll showed Obama winning a potential match-up with Romney, 53 percent to 37 percent.
The survey of 1,622 registered voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
The poll includes 429 Republicans, and that margin is 4.7 percentage points.
Polls will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. for registered Republicans. Besides Connecticut, Republicans are voting in Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)