GOP presidential candidates Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) failed to declare any delegates who support their campaign when they filed for the Alabama primary.
Declaring delegates “is really [a way] to say you have supporters in the state,” said Reed Phillips, the political director for the Alabama GOP. It shows “you have people in Alabama that are saying, ‘I like Ben Carson or I like Ted Cruz, I want to say I’m a supporter of this candidate, I want to represent the people of Alabama [by] saying I want this candidate to be our nominee,’” he tells Breitbart News.
The state’s leading vote-getters will send their delegates to the Republican National Convention in July of 2016. The delegates will then vote for their candidate in the formal ballot to choose the Republican nominee.
Sen. Rick Santorum explained that failing to register delegates in some states during his campaign hurt him when he ran against former Republican presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012. Santorum won 11 states during his 2012 campaign.
“You have to get delegates, you have to have a slate,” when competing in a state, Santorum warned Breitbart News. In 2012, “the Romney people just beat the living daylights out of us because they said ‘Look, even if they win [a majority in a state primary] they can’t win [without declared delegates]… and so they’re not ready to run a national campaign,’” he said.
The Alabama competitors include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Graham, Carly Fiorina, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Christie, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). However, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore did not file.
The candidates who filed with the most to least delegates in Alabama are as follows:
· Rubio: 76 delegates
· Carson: 76 delegates
· Cruz: 66 delegates
· Trump: 60 delegates
· Paul: 45 delegates
· Bush: 32 delegates
· Kasich: 20 delegates
· Santorum: 19 delegates
· Fiorina: 16 delegates
· Huckabee: 8 delegates
Phillips explained how the delegate process works in Alabama:
In Alabama, there are 47 total delegates, 26 at large, three for each of the seven districts, so total of 21 congressional district delegates. Fifty percent plus one of the vote will give [one] candidate all of the delegates, whether that’s [in a] congressional district or at-large. Both numbers are completely separate from each other. You could have one candidate take [a majority of votes in] the at-large and get all the  delegates or you can have a different candidate take [the majority vote in] a congressional district and then get those  delegates, so they’re completely separate and they don’t affect each other.
But if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the distribution of the 26 at-large delegates and the 21 district delegates is decided by a different formula.
If a candidate doesn’t reach 50 percent, then the [winning] threshold is at least 20 percent of the vote to get any delegates and then, at that point… the number of delegates that are allocated to [each]… candidate are based on a percentage of the vote won.
So if there’s no majority winner, each GOP presidential candidate in the Alabama primary who reaches 20 percent will have the 47 delegates divided up proportionately according to the percentage of votes each candidate receives in the primary.
The winning candidates will be given delegates, even if they have not registered any delegates prior to the election, Phillips said.
“If a candidate does win enough of the vote to get any delegates, yet no one qualified as a delegate for that candidate, then the state executive committee will then vote to fill the vacancies,” Phillips added.
“It doesn’t hurt you not to have any delegates. If you win enough of the vote, you’ll still get the delegates that you win, so it doesn’t hurt you not to have any.”
But “that’s a big deal,” Santorum said of the candidates who didn’t register any delegates in Alabama.
We got hammered with that four years ago because Romney was saying, ‘Well, look even if he wins, he’s not going to get any delegates,’ so you know, and delegates matter. Our  goal in Alabama was – we don’t need a full slate, because we’re not going to win the whole state of Alabama and we’re not going to get all 47 delegates, so our goal is to get […] 18 to 20 is what we thought would be a reasonable amount of delegates to have.
Breitbart News reached out to the Christie, Jindal and Graham campaigns to find out why they didn’t register with any delegates in Alabama.
A spokesperson from Christie’s campaign said, “The only delegates that matter are on election day,” adding, “you don’t necessarily have to have delegates to get into the Alabama primary.”
Jindal’s spokesperson Kyle Plotkin told Breitbart News, “Candidates do not need to file their own delegates in most states because RNC rules bind delegates to vote for the results of the primary or caucus on the first ballot.”
Graham’s campaign did not respond to Breitbart’s request for comment.