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Hundreds of residents stand in line to cast their vote Tuesday for the North Dakota GOP presidential caucus at the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge in Dickinson.

Super Tuesday: Santorum wins North Dakota GOP Caucus

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news Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

WILLISTON -- Super Tuesday drew a record crowd here following visits from two of the presidential candidates to the Oil Patch.

Rick Santorum, who continued to show off his piece of Bakken shale on national television after his recent tour of Tioga, had more than 40 percent of votes from each of the districts in the Williston caucus.

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Ron Paul, who spoke at a Williston event leading up to Super Tuesday, was the next favorite candidate for districts 1 and 2, which held its caucus at the El Rancho hotel in Williston.

Hundreds of people crowded into the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge in Dickinson, and the message from representatives from three Republican presidential candidates was clear: The Republicans need someone to beat President Barack Obama.

For Dickinson, the chosen candidate was Paul.

Dickinson resident Luke Simons spoke for the candidate, saying he is the only one who has consistently followed the U.S. Constitution.

"I just ask all of you tonight to go home and check the record," he said. "I'm telling you, if we don't get back to the Constitution, the devil will take this land over quicker than you can say boo. Ron Paul is the ticket."

Voters from districts 36 and 37 cheered and roared as representatives spoke on behalf of Santorum, Romney and Paul. No one spoke for Gingrich.

"Currently our country is suffering under a president who wants to do all he can to (take) us into socialism," Santorum supporter Amanda Evinger said. "If you listen closely, you can hear America crying."

District 36 Sen. George Nodland spoke for Romney, saying there are "four good candidates that can all beat Obama."

Voters turned out across the state to pick a Republican candidate. District 1 Republican Chairman Ken Callahan of Williston said more than half of the 503 voters were young people, many of them new residents to the community.

"It's exciting to see people caring," Callahan said. "It's a good

feeling."

District 1 had nearly 30 percent more voters than the previous caucus. District 2, which includes nearby cities of Tioga and Stanley saw a decline because that district didn't establish its own caucus site this year, Callahan said.

Santorum had the most visible support at the Williston caucus with numerous signs, while Paul's supporters drew the loudest cheers and whistles.

Williston High School seniors Shelby Treider, Jocelyn Walz and Kezia Kvernum said their government class has been following the debates and teachers encouraged students to get involved.

"It's kind of exciting that you get a say," said Kvernum after voting for her first time.

Other districts in western North Dakota anticipated large turnouts as well. Vicky Steiner of Dickinson, party chairwoman for District 37, said she took more calls leading up to Tuesday's caucus than in previous years.

"There's a little more interest in politics today than there was a few years ago," Steiner said. "People feel like if they want to make a difference, they've got to get involved."

District 39, with caucus sites in Watford City, Beach, Bowman, Grassy Butte and Hettinger, had "extraordinary turnout" at all five sites, said local party chairman Charles Whitney.

"We had some 43 people here in Beach. There were 80 people up in Watford (City)," said Chuck Whitney, District 39 chair. "We've had a good turnout."

Santorum also was the favorite in that district, followed by Paul.

A district-by-district breakdown will be made available today at the North Dakota Republican Party website at www.ndgop.org/caucus.

Dalrymple is a reporter stationed in the Oil Patch for Forum Communications Co.

Press reporters Ashley Martin and April Baumgarten contributed to this report.

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