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Romney Wins Florida Republican Presidential Primary, AP Projects

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Mitt Romney won today’s Florida Republican presidential primary, the Associated Press projected as polls closed, re-establishing him as the frontrunner for his party’s nomination after his Jan. 21 loss in South Carolina to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Networks including CNN, Fox and MSNBC also called the Florida race for Romney.

Romney had 47 percent of the vote with 47 percent of precincts counted, according to the Associated Press tally. Gingrich had 31 percent, followed by former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with 13 percent and U.S. Representative Ron Paul with 7 percent.

The victory gives Romney all 50 of Florida’s convention delegates. The Republican convention in Tampa begins Aug. 27.

Romney is the first to win more than one nominating contest in the Republican race. He finished first by 16 percentage points in New Hampshire’s Jan. 10 primary, then slipped to second, 12 points behind Gingrich, in South Carolina’s Jan. 21 vote.

Santorum was declared the winner in Iowa in a recount after state party officials originally said Romney won the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses.

Gingrich’s momentum heading into Florida sputtered as Romney and his allies attacked him in television advertisements and on the campaign trail.

Spending on broadcast ads on behalf of Romney in the state totaled $13.3 million as of yesterday, compared with $2.5 million in advertising time bought by Gingrich and his backers, according to data collected by New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG.

The race now heads west to Nevada, which holds its caucuses on Feb. 4.

To contact the reporters on this story: Catherine Dodge in Washington at cdodge1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Lerer in Tampa, Florida at llerer@bloomberg.net.

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