Mike Huckabee won the West Virginia Republican convention on the second ballot after John McCain backers threw their support to him.
Huckabee won 52 percent of the 1,089 votes on the second ballot, ahead of 48 percent for Mitt Romney. McCain won 10 votes, the Charleston Gazette reported.
Romney declined to answer questions about the West Virginia result, the first of Super Tuesday, after voting at Belmont Town Hall this afternoon.
Romney's national campaign manager, Beth Myers, hit back at McCain.
"Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain's inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney's campaign of conservative change," she said in a statement.
"Governor Romney had enough respect for the Republican voters of West Virginia to make an appeal to them about the future of the party based on issues. This is why he led on today's first ballot. Sadly, Senator McCain cut a Washington backroom deal in a way that once again underscores his legacy of working against Republicans who are interested in championing conservative policies and rebuilding the party."
Romney led after the first round of voting, but he didn't have enough support to win the state's 18 delegates. After the first ballot, Romney had 41 percent, Huckabee had 33 percent, McCain had 15.5 percent, and Ron Paul had 10 percent, according to the Gazette.
Under convention rules, a candidate must get at least 50 percent to win the delegates. Also under the rules, Paul was taken off the second ballot.
A McCain representative urged his supporters to back Huckabee on the second ballot. "The best scenario for the McCain campaign was to not have a Romney victory here today," Gary Abernathy, a McCain supporter and former state GOP director, told the Gazette.
The McCain camp then stuck the knife in a little deeper, sending reporters an optimistic quote from a Romney consultant. "We have had the only organizational presence in West Virginia to speak of," said John McCutcheon. "It's all Romney all the time."
The victory gives Huckabee 61 delegates, compared to 102 for McCain and 93 for Romney, according to the AP's tally. Huckabee could also be a spoiler for Romney's hopes in other Southern and border states voting today.
Romney took a red-eye flight back from California to be able to speak to convention delegates in Charleston. West Virginia is among 21 states with Republican contests today.