Larry and Jane King were out early Tuesday exercising their right to vote at the Downs precinct, located at Prospect United Methodist Church on Ga. Highway 212. Poll Manager Gill Davis said he was hopeful things would pick up as the day progressed, but predicts a light turnout as voters pick a preference for presidential candidate. No local question is on the ballot. - Staff photos by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
COVINGTON - Newton County voters kept in line with the rest of the state, choosing Georgia native Newt Gingrich as their GOP nominee during Tuesday's presidential preference primary.
Gingrich received 59.41 percent of the vote, or 5,422 votes, handily besting all his opponents.
Mitt Romney took 18.22 percent of the local vote, followed by Rick Santorum with 16.73 percent and Ron Paul with 5.01 percent. A total of 9,127 votes were cast, putting voter turnout at 19.39 percent.
Ten states with a total of 419 delegates were at stake on the busiest day of the race to pick an opponent to President Barack Obama in the fall. Gingrich represented Georgia in the House of Representatives for 20 years. He embarked on a three-day bus tour of the state last week to drum up support.
At a rally last week in Covington, Gingrich told supporters this presidential election "is the most important election of your lifetime."
Gingrich has stressed that winning Georgia, with its 76 delegates, the most at stake on Super Tuesday, is imperative to the success of his campaign.
"I am pretty confident I am the one candidate who can stand up on stage and debate Barack Obama," he said.
Gingrich has been gaining ground in the polls since claiming that he has an energy plan that could lower gasoline to $2.50 a gallon. The Associated Press called the race for Gingrich shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.