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Biden and Trump easily win in WA presidential primary, clinch nominations

Bill Lucia/Washington State Standard

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump cruised to wins in Washington state’s presidential primary on Tuesday, and the two men are now firmly on track for a rematch this November.

Around 8 p.m., just minutes after vote tallies became available, the Associated Press called Washington’s nominating contests for Biden and Trump. Biden commanded about 86% of Democratic ballots, as Trump claimed nearly 74% among Republicans.

Earlier Tuesday, Biden swept up Georgia’s delegates to officially clinch the Democratic nomination in this year’s presidential contest. Trump on Tuesday cleared that threshold as well.

A twist for Biden in recent weeks has been an activist campaign to get voters to choose “uncommitted delegates” on their ballots in protest of the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Progressives driving the effort want Biden to press harder for a ceasefire.

Only Democratic voters in Washington could select the uncommitted option on their ballots.

Activists said “uncommitted delegates” received around 6,400 votes in Washington in 2020 and that 12,000 uncommitted votes would “send a clear message to President Biden that he must change his policies and strategy.”

They’d far surpassed that goal Tuesday evening as voters had cast at least 48,000 uncommitted votes — about 7.5% of Democratic ballots.

“Tonight’s numbers show that President Biden’s current policies towards Gaza and Palestine are not in line with his voting base,” said Rami Al-Kabra, a lead organizer with Uncommitted WA and Bothell’s deputy mayor.

Shasti Conrad, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, said voters viewed the primary as “the opportunity to use the uncommitted delegate to send a message.”

“I do think people recognize the stakes and when it is President Biden versus Trump, they will support Biden,” Conrad added.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Nikki Haley was still walking away Tuesday with 21.7% of the vote even though she dropped out of the race last week, scoring a win only in Vermont among the 15 contests held on Super Tuesday. Trump easily won in the other states.

Washington State GOP Chairman Jim Walsh pointed to overall Republican voter turnout and the number of younger voters the party had attracted as positive signs. “We look forward to building on that success through this election cycle,” he said.

The last time Washington state voted for a Republican in a presidential election was in 1984 when Ronald Reagan defeated Walter Mondale.

In 2020, Biden carried the state with nearly 58% of the vote, to Trump’s roughly 39%.

Two longshot candidates, Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips and self-help author Marianne Williamson, also appeared on the state’s Democratic primary ballot this year. They’d each captured around 3% of the vote as of Tuesday night. Phillips suspended his campaign last week. Williamson unsuspended her campaign in late February after dropping out of the race earlier in the month.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and investor Vivek Ramaswamy all appeared on the Republican side of the ballot, but they’d all dropped out of the race in January and each only received about 2% or less of the votes counted Tuesday in Washington.

The state votes by mail and using ballot dropboxes so more votes will be tallied in the days ahead.

The Standard’s Jerry Cornfield contributed to this report.

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.