Donald Trump won the Washington Republican primary, and likely all of the state’s GOP delegates to the national convention, collecting about three of every four votes his party members cast.
Trump, the sole remaining Republican with an active presidential campaign, won every county by large margins, and is assured of the state’s 11 at-large delegates. Although the 30 delegates awarded by congressional district vote will have to wait for a more complete breakdown, Trump’s majorities are so strong in each county that he almost certainly has all of them, too.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich were battling for second place, each with about 10 percent of the votes.
Hillary Clinton was leading Bernie Sanders in a tighter race for Democrats, but the results in that contest are a mere beauty contest that won’t affect the nomination process.
Spokane County results were similar to the state tallies. Trump had 75 percent of the Republican ballots counted Tuesday night, and Cruz was second with just under 12 percent. Clinton led Sanders by about 500 votes in Spokane’s Democratic ballots.
Republicans are using the primary to determine the vote of their delegates for a presidential nominee at their national convention in Cleveland. The delegates were elected at the state convention in Pasco last weekend, and all but one are strong supporters of Ted Cruz. But in at least the first round of the nominating process they will vote for Donald Trump, and it’s unlikely there will be a second round.
Scheduled on May 24 by law, GOP officials initially tried to move the election to March, when the contest for a nominee was more likely to be in doubt. That was blocked last year by Democrats on a committee with the authority to change the schedule. But when the primary season started with 17 Republicans seeking the nomination, Washington Republican officials had hoped the late primary would, for a change, be an important factor in deciding the race.
That seemed likely through April, when Cruz and Kasich were vowing to fight all the way to the convention. Then Trump won a series of contests, including the Indiana primary on May 3. Cruz, who had called that primary a “must-win” suspended his campaign that night and Kasich dropped out the next day.
Those announcements came as elections officials around Washington were mailing out presidential primary ballots to the state’s 4 million voters.
Ben Carson, a physician who dropped out of the race earlier, was on the ballot because he didn’t formally notify state elections officials of his withdrawal. He was polling about 4 percent of the votes.
The state Democratic Party is using the caucus system to divide delegates between former Secretary of State Clinton and Vermont Sen. Sanders, and the candidates did not campaign for primary votes in Washington. About the only official party acknowledgment of the election by the state party officials was to hector major state Republican candidates to demand whether they were marking their ballots for Trump.
Even so, nearly 175,000 more Democratic ballots were counted Tuesday night than Republican ballots.
But the primary results represent a significant reversal from the March precinct caucuses, where Sanders captured 72 percent of the party activists who attended the meetings on the Saturday before Easter. In Tuesday’s vote count, Clinton led in the state’s most populous counties, including King, Pierce and Snohomish, but Sanders was ahead in Thurston County, home of the state capital, as well as the northeastern tier of counties along the Canadian border from the Puget Sound to the Idaho state line.
Although the Republican race is all but settled and the Democratic race will not use the primary results, state election officials said voters may have sent in a record number of ballots for a Washington presidential primary. The count of returned ballots late Tuesday afternoon stood at 1.26 million, which will be boosted by late deposits in drop boxes Tuesday evening and the Wednesday and Thursday mail deliveries. The most presidential primary ballots cast was in 2008, with slightly less 1.39 million
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