Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney claimed another victory on Saturday in the GOP primary contests by coming out on top in the Nevada caucus.
With 45 percent of precincts reporting, Romney captured 42.6 percent of the vote. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich came in second with 26 percent, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) in third with 18.5 percent and former U.S. Sen. Santorum in fourth with 13 percent.
The former Massachusetts governor was expected to win because polls throughout the week placed him well ahead of his competitors. In 2008, Romney won the caucus by taking 51 percent of the vote.
Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative group GOProud, said Romney’s win in the Silver State shows the candidate has viability across the country.
“Gov. Romney has now won in the North, South, and West,” LaSalvia said. “Tonight is yet another indicator that he will be the Republican nominee.”
LaSalvia, who’s endorsed Romney, said the continuing wins for Romney demonstrate Gingrich — who’s had one win and four losses — should drop out of the race now.
“It’s clearly the end of the road for Gingrich,” LaSalvia said. “If he can’t win the home state of his biggest supporter, where can he win?”
Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson gave $10 million to Newt’s Super PAC, which has aired ads against Romney criticizing the candidate for his practices while running Bain Capital.
Nevada awards its delegates proportionately based on the vote percentages won by each candidate. The 28 delegates allotted to the state will be distributed among the different contenders, but Romney will receive the lion’s share for winning the caucuses.
One Democratic LGBT advocate based in Nevada pounced on Romney for his policy positions despite the candidate’s win.
Laura Martin, spokesperson for the Stonewall Democratic Club of Southern Nevada, said Romney may have won over Republicans in the state, but his positions that aren’t in line with Nevada’s population as a whole.
“Mitt Romney’s anti-job, anti-housing, anti-immigrant agenda coupled with his inability to connect with real people spells trouble for him in November,” Martin said. “And by clinging to the GOP’s failed economic principles of the past — the same anti-government anti-tax principles that have caused Nevada to have the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates in the country — Mitt Romney and the Republican Party has made themselves a risky bet very few Nevadans are willing to take.”
The next contests in Republican primary will take place on Tuesday in three states: Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. The caucus in Maine started on Saturday and will continue until Feb. 11.