CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rick Santorum won the Mecklenburg County GOP straw poll Thursday night.
Santorum won with 40 percent of votes cast. Mitt Romney and Ron Paul tied for second, each with 22 percent of the votes. As many as 500 people took part in the GOP precinct and straw poll.
"There's 500 energized Republicans in this room and this is exciting," said Charlotte City Council member Andy Dulin, who is also running for the seat that is being vacated by U.S. Representative Sue Myrick.
In that race, Dulin finished third with 14 percent in the straw poll, behind Jim Pendergraph with 39 percent and Ric Killian who had 21 percent.
Republicans also began the process at the precinct meeting of selecting delegates to go to the national GOP convention in Tampa in August.
Charlotte City Council member Warren Cooksey has been a delegate before and said he was interested in going again.
"I've had the privilege of being an alternate delegate to the past three conventions and this is where that starts," he said as he moved around the room.
GOP leaders said they are well aware that the Democrats will dominate the headlines when their national convention opens in Charlotte in September.
But Mecklenburg County GOP Chairman Gideon Moore said his party would not melt into the shadow of the Democrats.
"We have this opportunity to do something very special and that is why we're here and feeling a lot of energy here. A lot of folks feel that shadow but they are excited about doing something in response," he said.