Biden Close to Formal Dem Nomination 06/03 06:16
Joe Biden is on the cusp of formally securing the Democratic presidential
nomination after winning hundreds more delegates in primary contests Tuesday
that tested the nation's ability to run elections while balancing a pandemic
and sweeping social unrest.
(AP) -- Joe Biden is on the cusp of formally securing the Democratic
presidential nomination after winning hundreds more delegates in primary
contests Tuesday that tested the nation's ability to run elections while
balancing a pandemic and sweeping social unrest.
Biden could lock down the nomination within the next week as West Virginia
and Georgia hold primaries.
On Tuesday, voters across America were forced to navigate curfews, health
concerns and National Guard troops waiting in line hours after polls closed
in some cases after election officials dramatically reduced the number of
in-person voting sites to minimize the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Biden and President Donald Trump easily swept their respective primary
contests that ranged from Maryland to Montana and featured the night's biggest
prize: Pennsylvania. The two men are certain to face each other on the
presidential ballot in November, yet party rules require them first to
accumulate a majority of delegates in the monthslong state-by-state primary
Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination in March.
Pennsylvania, which offered Tuesday's largest trove of delegates, also
represented a significant test case for Republicans and Democrats working to
strengthen their operations in a premier general election battleground.
Voters were forced to brave long lines in "militarized zones" because
officials consolidated the vast majority of polling places in Philadelphia to
minimize health risks, according to Erin Kramer, executive director of One
Pennsylvania. She noted that some polling places in African American
communities are in police stations.
"Having to stand in line while police officers are entering and exiting the
building on police business is not exactly how people want to spend their
election day," Kramer said.
Biden was in Philadelphia earlier Tuesday to deliver remarks about the civil
unrest that has erupted across the nation after the police killing of George
Floyd. He didn't talk about the primary, instead focusing his attention on
Trump, whom Biden blasted as "more interested in power than in principle."
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is not actively campaigning for the Democratic
presidential nomination, having suspended his operation and endorsed Biden, but
his name appeared on the ballots. On the eve of Tuesday's primaries, senior
adviser Jeff Weaver encouraged progressives to vote for Sanders anyway to help
maximize his influence in the direction of the Democratic Party.
The comments served as a reminder that Biden may have no legitimate
Democratic rivals remaining, but he must still win over skeptical activists
from his party's far-left flank, who worry he's too close to the political
Party unity was an afterthought this week, however, as more immediate health
and safety concerns dominated the national conversation. The coronavirus death
toll has surged past 100,000 nationwide, and thousands of new cases are
reported each day.
At the same time, several major cities, particularly Washington, D.C., and
Philadelphia among those voting Tuesday, struggled to contain protests and
related looting that led to thousands of arrests.
Some voters said Trump's increasingly tough tone toward protesters inspired
them to participate in the democratic process. Nicholas Autiello, who works in
finance in Rhode Island, said he was disturbed by police driving back peaceful
demonstrators near the White House on Monday.
"Last night, we have a president who is acting like a dictator," Autiello
said. "So being able to come out here this morning and fill in a circle next to
a name for someone who I know will restore honor and decency to the presidency
was so important."
Political groups have had to adjust as some states move to a system that
relies largely on voting by mail. They include Montana, where all 56 counties
decided to vote entirely by mail, despite Trump's repeated warning against it.
Voting rights watchdogs in multiple states on Tuesday expressed concerns about
access to mail ballots, confusion about deadlines and a shortage of poll
workers that led to long lines.
"We are in unique times, and voting is a unique challenge for people," said
Josh Schwerin, chief strategist for the pro-Democrat super PAC Priorities USA.
He said that his organization and others would be watching closely on Tuesday
"to see how well it works, where issues are and where obstacles have been put
Those voting Tuesday included the District of Columbia, Indiana, Maryland,
Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Dakota. Two other
states holding primary elections on Tuesday, Idaho and Iowa, chose their
presidential nominee early in the year.
In Iowa, Republican Rep. Steve King, known nationally for controversial
remarks, lost his bid to be nominated for a 10th term to state Sen. Randy
Feenstra. House Republicans stripped King of his committee assignments in 2019
after comments that seemed to defend white nationalism, providing fuel for
Feenstra's argument that King was no longer an effective representative for the
In a New Mexico race for an open House seat, ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame
lost the Democratic primary to attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez, a professional
advocate for Native American communities and voting rights issues. A first-time
candidate for public office, Plame harnessed her fame as the operative whose
secret identity was exposed shorty after her diplomat husband disputed U.S.
intelligence used to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion.