John Kerry further solidified his position as the Democratic
frontrunner by squashing his rivals over the weekend in the
Michigan, Washington and Maine caucuses.

Kate Green
AP PHOTO
Kate Green
FOREST CASEY/Daily
Jacob C. Mays and Latrelle Powers-Mays cast their vote in the Michigan Democratic caucuses yesterday. Their polling precinct, located in Detroit at the Considine Recreational Center, showed a low voter turnout as the polls closed on Sa

In Michigan, the Massachusetts senator received 52 percent of
the vote, followed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean with 17
percent and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina with 13 percent.
Michigan was the largest state to hold a contest thus far, with a
total of 128 pledged delegates at stake. That is a larger prize
than states such as Iowa, which offered only 45 total delegates in
its Jan. 19 caucuses. Kerry won that contest with about 36 percent
of the state delegate equivalence.

A total of 841 people, many of them students, voted at the
Michigan Union polling site. Kerry received 30.7 percent of the
votes at this location, ahead of Dean with 26.4, Edwards with 16.6,
retired Gen. Wesley Clark with 11.8, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
with 10.7 and the Rev. Al Sharpton with 2.9, according to Graham
Teall, chairman of the Washtenaw County Democrats.

Dean, who once hoped to win Michigan, all but conceded the state
Thursday to focus on the Feb. 17 Wisconsin primary, which he called
“a must-win state.” Dean cancelled a visit that was
scheduled for Friday at the Michigan League.

The bad news continued for Dean on Saturday, as he lost the
endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal employees, a sizeable labor union with 1.4 million
members.

“The entire race has come down to this: We must win
Wisconsin. … A win there will carry us to the big states of
March 2 and narrow the field to two candidates. Anything less will
put us out of this race,” Dean said in an e-mail sent to
supporters on Thursday.

In Washington, Kerry captured the majority of the state’s
76 pledged delegates by obtaining 49 percent of the vote, followed
by Dean with 30, Kucinich with 8 and Edwards with 7.

In Sunday’s lone caucus, Kerry followed the example he set
on Saturday by decisively winning in Maine. With more than 50
percent of precincts reporting when The Michigan Daily went to
press, Kerry had 45 percent of the votes, ahead of Dean with 26,
Kucinich with 15 and Edwards with 9.

Kerry has now won 10 of the 12 primaries or caucuses that have
been held. Saturday’s victories (excluding Maine) increased
his first-place delegate total to 409 — ahead of Dean with
174 and Edwards with 116. A candidate needs a total of 2,161
delegates to secure the nomination before Boston’s July 25
national convention.

Tennessee and Virginia will vote tomorrow, and Nevada will have
its election on Saturday.

Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry told The Associated Press that
Saturday marked the second-highest voter turnout in a Michigan
Democratic caucus. “148,000 people came out to cast their
presidential preference, and the loser was George Bush,”
Cherry said. The highest turnout in Michigan occurred in 1988 with
more than 200,000 voters participating.

About 123,000 voters applied for online ballots in the caucuses,
making this the first caucus in Michigan history to offer Internet
voting. Registered Michigan voters had been casting their
electronic ballots since early January.

Teall said that he was impressed by the voter turnout in
Washtenaw County, especially since opinion polls showed Kerry with
a commanding lead. “Even though the polls predicted a clear
winner in the Michigan elections, the turnout was fantastic. That
shows to me voter motivation,” he said.

The Forsythe Middle School polling site in Ann Arbor even ran
out of ballots as it was set to close at 4 p.m., causing the site
leader to run to his office and copy more ballots as close to 250
people waited outside, Teall said.

“Nobody left out of frustration. They waited and wanted
the chance to vote,” Teall added.

In Ann Arbor, Gov. Jennifer Granholm was received
enthusiastically at the Michigan Union as she officially opened the
caucus site along with Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, U.S. Rep. John
Dingell (D-Dearborn), state Sen. Liz Brater and state Rep. Chris
Kolb (both D-Ann Arbor).

Donning a John Kerry button, Granholm spoke about the importance
of the college vote. “I am just thrilled that so many people
are participating,” Granholm said. “College students
have a reputation of not engaging in the (political) process, and
I’m glad to see so much activity here.”

Hieftje said the upcoming presidential election has important
implications for Ann Arbor. “(We) need to get back to an era
where the government is giving back to the local community instead
of taking it out. Money to support the police was cut back —
it was called homeland security, (but) the basic needs (of the
community) are being ignored,” he said.

“I’m voting for John Kerry because he will best
represent my interests — he is a very strong
environmentalist. I really believe he represents the values of
people in Ann Arbor, and I hope they will make the same
choice,” Hieftje added.

Dingell also talked about the importance of the November
election. “It is a regular policy of mine to attend caucuses.
The practice is to get around as widely as I can,” Dingell
said. “I want to be as helpful to the Democrats as possible
because I’m tired of having the country run by the
Republicans.”

Most of the voters at the Union were students, with Kerry and
Dean supporters being the most prominent. Dean’s volunteers
said support on the campus for their candidate was strong, and that
the media was to blame for Kerry’s recent momentum within the
state.

— Daily Staff Reporter Victoria Edwards contributed to
this report.

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