Full Ohio delegate slate out of reach for Santorum

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AP Photo/Eric Gay

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A wrinkle in his early campaign filings could leave Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum without almost a third of the available Ohio delegates even if he wins Super Tuesday’s primary election.

Santorum, who took a campaign swing through the state Friday, has already forsaken nine delegates by not being on ballots in three Ohio congressional districts. Each district merits three delegates.

Party officials said Friday the problem goes deeper.

Santorum failed to file a full complement of delegates in six additional districts, said central committee member Bob Bennett. The holes add up to another nine delegates, for a total of 18 out of the 63 up for grabs. Santorum also did not file all 18 of his at-large delegates.

“He may very well leave delegates on the sidelines,” Bennett said. “Say he would win 70 percent of the state. He doesn’t have that many delegates.”

Ohio Republican Party spokesman Chris Maloney says party rules call for appointing a three-member Committee on Contest to decide what to do with the unallocated delegates. That panel’s recommendation would go back to the GOP’s state central committee for a final ruling.

“The leftover delegates will be considered unallocated, and the presidential campaigns will be able to file a contest with the GOP to claim them,” Maloney said.

An email was not immediately answered seeking comment from the Santorum campaign.