TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Voters on Tuesday capped a primary season that started with Republican Gov. Chris Christie running for president and ended with wins for presumptive Republican pick Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The outcome lacked much suspense because both candidates had already wrapped up the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
But the day was not without drama. Christie declined to criticize Trump for saying an American-born judge of Mexican descent could not fairly judge him in a case related to the Trump University real estate education program because he has proposed building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Christie said Trump is not a racist, but other prominent Republicans denounced Trump’s comments.
With the win, Trump picked up 51 delegates, cementing his hold on the GOP nomination. Clinton won the majority of the state’s 126 pledged delegates.
She claimed victory Tuesday night in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, eight years after conceding defeat in her first White House bid and one day after reaching the number of delegates needed to defeat rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Voters in New Jersey also picked party representatives for the U.S. House in the Nov. 8 election. All seven incumbents facing challengers won their races on Tuesday night.
The presidential contest now swings into the general election, with Trump hopeful he might be able to turn New Jersey from Democratic to Republican and Clinton aiming to get Sanders supporters in her camp. New Jersey voters have chosen the Democratic candidate in each presidential election since 1992.
Democratic superdelegate Reni Erdos, who backs Sanders, said she will vote for Clinton in November if Sanders gets out of the race.
“I certainly am going to vote for Clinton,” she said. “I think she’s very qualified. I have no difficulty voting for her. I likely Bernie better.”
Jene Jackson said after voting in Hamilton that she is a strong Clinton backer and felt that voting for her would make a statement, even after the AP count was revealed.
“She’s pro-choice, supports gay marriage. … She’s for letting people live their lives, not forcing her beliefs on others,” Jackson said. “I also want her to be the person who picks the next Supreme Court justice.”
Kenny Sheinbaum, of Lakewood, said he was a “totally committed” supporter of Sanders because he is the only candidate who cares about the working man.
“I’m a Democrat, but I’m really not a liberal. I’m willing to vote for a Republican if I think they’re the best person for the job,” Sheinbaum said. “I looked at what all the candidates had to offer, and Bernie was the best dog in the litter.”
Lucas Biel, of Closter, said he voted for Trump because he is the most realistic of the candidates due to his business experience.
“A lot of people think he’s an extremist, but at certain times you have to take certain measures,” he said. “And he knows economics the best out of the three.”
Christie voted with his son Andrew Christie on Tuesday morning in Mendham Township. Both are delegates for the presumptive nominee.
Trump picked Christie to lead his White House transition team, but Christie’s backing in New Jersey might not go too far with polls showing he’s at record-low approval. In response to a question about whether he could win New Jersey in the general election recently, Trump replied, “I am New Jersey.”
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