February 2, 2012 | 4:48pm
-- Andy Bernard, The Office
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich lost Tuesday's primary by 14 points, which means he doesn't get any of the state's 50 delegates and front-runner Mitt Romney can go skipping to Nevada's Saturday primary with a 48-delegate lead
in the long, agonizing race for 1,144.
It's against Republican National Committee rules to hold a winner-take-all primary before April 1 -- but it's also against the rules to hold a primary before the first Tuesday in March, and the Florida GOP loves doing that. The state had half of its delegation taken away as punishment for moving the date up to January 31, but the winner-take-all provision is technically part of the same rule
, so there wasn't a further penalty, but it does give some wiggle room to a challenge, which would leave Romney with 23 delegates and give Gingrich 16 and distribute the rest between Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
Even if challenged, however, the appropriation policy wouldn't be decided until the national convention August 27 in Tampa, and even then, there's no guarantee the ruling would change anything -- or if Gingrich will be in the race long enough to enjoy them.