JUNEAU — Alaska Republicans crowded polling places Tuesday to vote for their choice for the party’s presidential nominee.
All of the GOP’s major candidates — Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich — were competing in the race that Romney won four years ago.
Romney was maintaining a slight lead in the Alaska Republican presidential preference poll last night. With 79 percent of the vote counted, Romney had 33 percent of the vote. Santorum was close behind, with 30 percent. Paul was third, with 22 percent, and Gingrich has 15 percent.
In Alaska’s capital city, voters began showing up as soon as the polling place at the Juneau Yacht Club opened. One polling place in Anchorage had lines before the polls opened at 4 p.m., and no place to park, even on side streets.
Romney took 183 Juneau votes, Santorum 125, Paul 87 and Gingrich 44 said Ben Brown of the Capital City Republicans.
Statewide numbers were not yet available as the Juneau Empire went to press.
Among those at the yacht club was Barbara Fiscus, 44, who voted for Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator.
Fiscus, a stay-at-home Juneau mother who homeschools her children, said a number of issues are important to her, from the economy to moral issues. When picking a candidate, she said it came down to whom she considered the most conservative.
“I just think it’s such an important vote,” she said. “I wanted to make sure my conservative voice was heard.”
Joe Geldhof, 60, was poll watching for Romney’s campaign. Geldhof, an attorney, said he gave money to Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor who failed to gain traction and announced last year that he’d seek the Libertarian nomination. Geldhof said he also was interested in Jon Huntsman until he “flopped.”
He said Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is serious, and would probably be a better president than he is a candidate. “He excites nobody, but I think he has administrative experience,” Geldhof said.
Twenty-four delegates are up for grabs in the Alaska GOP’s presidential preference poll, one of 10 contests held Tuesday. Allocation of delegates Tuesday will be proportional. Alaska has three other delegates, state party leaders who will attend the national convention as unpledged, bringing Alaska’s overall delegate total to 27.
Only registered Republicans, or Alaskans who register as Republicans on site, could participate. Alaska does not have presidential primaries.
Robert File of Juneau voted for Paul. “We’ve lost our way,” said File, 81. “The government thinks we can live on the future. That’s impossible. We owe too much money.” Paul, a Texas congressman, is the only one in the race with “any brains,” he said.
Editor’s note: The Juneau Empire added local returns to this story.