JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Alaska and Washington Democratic party’s presidential caucuses on Saturday, defeating former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Bernie won Washington’s Democratic presidential caucuses after tens of thousands of people met at schools, libraries and community centers across the state.READ MORE: Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct Involving Ocean City Beach Patrol Members Under Investigation
There are 118 delegates at stake in Washington, with 101 to ultimately be awarded proportionally based on the results of Saturday’s caucuses. The remaining 17 are technically unpledged party and elected leaders, though a majority of them — including Gov. Jay Inslee and the state’s Congressional delegation — have already said they support frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Both candidates spent time in Washington this past week, with Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, making several stops and Sanders packing huge rallies in Seattle and elsewhere.
Sanders raised $2.6 million in Washington state, while Clinton has raised about $2 million
There are 20 Democratic delegates up for grabs in Alaska, a state whose largest voting bloc doesn’t identify with a political party.
The delegates are not automatically allocated after Saturday’s caucuses, in which participants essentially went to different corners of voting sites to “vote” for their candidate in a process called a “fan out.”
But the percentage of the votes won Saturday doesn’t guarantee that delegates will be applied proportionally. Rather, after the votes for candidates have been completed, those at the caucuses will elect delegates to the state convention in proportion to the vote for candidates.
Then, at the three-day state convention in May in Anchorage, those elected to attend will take part in their own “fan out” process. This will decide how the delegates are proportioned.
That is how 16 of the state’s 20 delegates will be allocated to the candidates. The remaining four delegates are super delegates, or the unpledged party leaders, including the party chair, vice chair, the national committeeman and the national committeewoman who can support any candidate they please.
Large crowds and long lines were reported at some caucus sites. In Juneau, the caucus got started about 45 minutes behind schedule as people continued to show up. Some participants were decked out in political regalia — pins and T-shirts proclaiming their candidate of choice.
Kirsa Hughes-Skandijs said it was her strong belief in Bernie Sanders as a candidate that brought her to her first caucus. The 38-year-old, wearing a black Sanders’ T-shirt to a caucus site in downtown Juneau, said she had never donated to candidate before Sanders before, either.READ MORE: Multiple Faiths Joining Forces To Combat Philadelphia's Rising Gun Violence
“This is the first time I’ve ever felt that kind of belief in a candidate, that they mean what they say and that they are not saying what they think people want to hear,” she said.
Kim Metcalfe, of Juneau, said she supports Clinton. She cited Clinton’s experience and said she has more confidence in Clinton’s ability to govern.
President Barack Obama “did well for himself, considering what he was up against,” Metcalfe said. “I don’t think Bernie could do that. He says everything I believe in, I just don’t think he can govern.”
Clinton and Sanders, the two major candidates in the race, each set up campaign offices in Alaska ahead of Saturday’s caucus. The third choice for caucus-goers Saturday was a little-known businessman Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente of California.
The day got off to a rocky start in Anchorage, where dozens of people showed up to have coffee with Sanders’ wife, Jane Sanders, at the Bear Tooth Theater. But she didn’t show up. A campaign spokesman said there was a last minute schedule change.
Those standing in line were told to go the caucus site at Anchorage West High School, where parking attendants were directing drivers to lots that were already filled to capacity.
Unlike the state GOP’s presidential preference poll held earlier this month, in which Republican voters cast ballots for their presidential pick, state Democrats met to arrange themselves in groups according to the candidates they support.
State Democratic party spokesman Jake Hamburg has called the caucus an example of “grassroots democracy” where neighbors come together to talk about candidates. An advantage to holding the caucuses the same day as Hawaii and Washington state held theirs was getting two extra delegates as part of a Democratic National Committee effort to encourage regional participation, he said.
AP reporter Mark Thiessen contributed to this report from Anchorage, Alaska.MORE NEWS: 2 Mothers, Babies Rushed To Hospital After Being Rescued From Burning Frankford Apartment Building, Officials Say
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