Republican presidential frontruner Mitt Romney has won his party’s primary in Puerto Rico, strengthening his position as he seeks to face President Barack Obama in November’s election.
Election officials say that with 30 percent of the precincts reporting, Romney had won 83 percent of Sunday’s vote. His top rival, Rick Santorum, stood a distant second at 8 percent, while Newt Gingrich had about 2 percent.
Romney is almost certain to win the 20 delegates at stake in Puerto Rico. They will be divided if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote in U.S. general elections.
The win widens Romney’s lead in the race to secure the 1,144 delegates needed to lock up the Republican nomination.
The Republican campaign now shifts to Illinois, which holds its primary on Tuesday. Louisiana votes on Saturday.
Romney and Santorum made campaign appearances in Puerto Rico leading up to the voting.
Santorum caused a stir after suggesting that Puerto Rico would have to make English its official language before it could become the 51st U.S. state. Romney says he supports statehood for Puerto Rico without any language stipulations.
English and Spanish are the recognized languages on the island.