For Pennsylvania voters, the presidential primary comes too late.

The primary election in the Keystone State isn't held until Tuesday, April 24. By then, 33 states will have already held their primaries or caucuses.

There's a slim chance that two GOP candidates may still be in the running but most likely, the Republican party's presidential candidate will already be known.

Either way, Pennsylvanians will not have the same options that voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida have.

Also, the way the current process works, you aren't actually select a candidate. You pick the candidate that you want your state delegate to select at the National Republican Convention, which will be held in late August.

A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to become the presidential candidate. Pennsylvania has 29 delegates at the GOP convention.

With the number of caucuses and primaries already held before Pennsylvania, the drama to select a nominee may be all but over.

The first caucus was Jan. 3, which Rick Santorum won. Then, a week later, Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary. Newt Gingrich was the winner on Jan. 21 of the South Carolina primary.

The Florida primary is set for Jan. 31.

Iowa has 28 delegates, New Hampshire has 12 delegates, South Carolina has 25 delegates, and Florida has 40 delegates.

So far Gingrich has 26 delegates, Romney has 25, Ron Paul has 10, and Santorum has eight.

On March 6, "Super Tuesday" occurs. On that date, 10 states will have primaries or caucuses, which will account for 438 delegate votes.

Texas, which has its primary on April 3, gets 155 delegate votes.

New York's primary is the same day as Pennsylvania's. New York gets 95 delegates, just 23 more than Pennsylvania.

The last primary in Utah on June 26 is over 5 1/2 months after the Iowa caucus. Why are the caucuses and primaries so spread-out?

Why not have all the primaries in one month? Why should small states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina be allowed to have their caucuses and primaries so early? Shouldn't voters across the country all have the same choices?

It would be less expensive for the candidates and their respective parties to finish the primaries and caucuses in one month.

As it is, Pennsylvania voters are generally left out of the drama when it comes to deciding who the GOP nominee will be in the presidential election. It's likely the Republicans will know who their presidential candidate will be even before Pa. voters visit the polls.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com [1]