Rick Santorum Wins Missouri ‘Beauty Contest’

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has won Missouri’s “beauty contest” primary.

Thanks to the absence of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) on the ballot and a dose of local campaigning, Santorum put together a large margin of victory tonight in the Show Me State’s Republican primary.

With 40 percent of precincts reporting, Santorum had 54 percent of the vote, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 26 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 12 percent.

The win was only symbolic, however, as the primary is nonbinding and no delegates will be rewarded.

Still, it gives Santorum’s campaign a big public push as an alternative to Romney, who has taken pains in recent days to present himself as an unstoppable frontrunner in the presidential primary.

Colorado and Minnesota are also holding nonbinding caucuses tonight.