Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the Republican presidential primary in his home state of Georgia, CNN, Fox News and the Associated Press projected, keeping his candidacy alive.
The win in Georgia marks Gingrich’s first victory since Jan. 21 in South Carolina, and he still faces an uphill climb against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who lead in national polls and the delegate count.
Gingrich had almost 49 percent of the vote, Santorum was second with 23 percent, Romney had 22 percent and Texas Representative Ron Paul 6 percent with 31 percent of precincts reporting, according to the AP.
“I hope the analysts in Washington and New York who spent June and July explaining our campaign was dead will watch this tonight and learn a little bit from this crowd and from this place,” Gingrich told supporters in Atlanta. He said the “national elite” had tried to kill his candidacy because his presidency would be “frightening” to the establishment.
Georgia has the biggest cache of convention delegates among the 11 states holding contests today. Most of its 76 delegates will be awarded proportionally based on voting by congressional district and the statewide totals.
Before tonight, Gingrich described Georgia as a must-win state for him.
“You lose all credibility if the folks who know you best repudiate you,” Gingrich said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program on March 4.