When Rick Santorum picks up a high-profile endorsement in a key state, it's a relatively big deal. When that supporter backed Mitt Romney up until yesterday, it's a bigger deal.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will endorse Rick Santorum this afternoon, Ohio Republicans confirm.DeWine, a Romney endorser, will announce his decision to change endorsements in remarks at the Ohio State House in Columbus, OH. Santorum is currently leading Romney in the state, 42 percent to 24 percent in the latest Rasmussen poll.
DeWine had thrown his support to Romney in late October, but was reportedly annoyed by Romney's criticism of a felon-voting bill. DeWine was one of only three Republican senators who backed the legislation when it came up in 2002.
The Romney camp was reportedly "blindsided" by today's news, and DeWine did not signal his intentions in advance.
Regardless, the next question is whether this switch is of any consequence. DeWine holds a significant post in a key state, and enjoys strong statewide name recognition, but it's a stretch to think he commands a legion of GOP supporters.
The story matters, though, because of the larger context: Romney has had ups and downs over the last several months, but the one constant, which has helped him weather every storm, has been the support he's received from much of the Republican Party establishment. No matter who was winning at the time, no high-profile supporters have abandoned Romney -- until this afternoon.
Romney's principal worry isn't that DeWine will shift a massive number of votes to Santorum, bur rather, that DeWine is a crack in the ice.