Last night’s seven Democratic primaries and caucuses tell
one conclusive fact: a clear victor at this stage in the race for
the presidential nomination cannot be found. But with 269 of the
2,161 delegates attending the Democratic National Convention in
July up for grabs, yesterday marked another important stage in the
race for the Democratic nomination.

Mira Levitan

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts won five states, and Sen. John
Edwards of North Carolina stayed in the running by winning the
South Carolina primary. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark won a close race
in Oklahoma.

Yesterday’s primaries, following after Iowa and New
Hampshire, marked a number of new voter hurdles for the candidates.
The race in South Carolina represented the first primary or caucus
with a substantial black voting body, at almost 47 percent of the
population. Similarly, Arizona and New Mexico held the first
primaries with large Hispanic populations.

The most indicative victory of the night went to Kerry, who
finished with five commanding victories in Arizona, Delaware,
Missouri, New Mexico and North Dakota.

But Edwards remained a contender with a first-place finish in
South Carolina, a “must-win” state for his campaign,
and a second place finish in Oklahoma and Missouri.

Clark also kept his campaign alive with a narrow victory in
Oklahoma over Edwards.

Even though Clark had not focused his campaign on either Iowa or
New Hampshire, Democratic nominees historically have won a state by
the February 3 primaries and caucuses.

South Carolina, where Kerry finished second, was the focal point
of both Edwards’ and Rev. Al Sharpton’s campaigns this
week. While Edwards finished strongly in his home state, Sharpton
took a third place.

Sharpton had focused the bulk of his resources on South
Carolina, but vowed to continue his campaign. After failing to
mount a victory in the must-win state of Delaware, Sen. Joseph
Lieberman of Connecticut officially withdrew from the nomination
race.

The race for nomination remains hotly contested, albeit more
delineated. Until yesterday, Kerry held a 115-to-114 delegate lead
over Dean, whose campaign continued to lose steam.

With the delegates Kerry won in five states last night, he holds
a commanding lead in the allocated delegates thus far.

“I think a lot of people were surprised that Febuary. 3
would be such a dogfight,” said Brad Anderson, Press
Secretary for John Edwards in Michigan. “None of the
candidates knew they were going to have to allocate so much
time.”

With nine states having held caucuses and primaries to date,
Washington’s primary and Michigan’s caucuses on
Saturday are next in line.

On Saturday all the candidates will be watching as Michiganders
vote, as it represents the largest number of delegates in any state
yet. While all the campaigns hold interest in Michigan, only Dean,
Clark and Kerry have scheduled visits before Saturday.

“It’s one of several states that are very
important,” said Christy Setzer, Communications Director for
Howard Dean in Michigan. “It’s a delegate rich state
and it’s a delegate race with John Kerry.”

With Saturday on the horizon for the developing campaigns,
Michigan voters can expect to see television ads for the first
time.

“We’re going to look at the results from (yesterday)
and see what we have to do,” said Eric Schultz, Kerry’s
Michigan spokesman. “We want to make the right strategic
decision to see where we need to go on the air.”

Some candidates questioned the effects television advertising
due to the limited amount of money available for the many
democratic candidates.

“Voter turnout in Michigan is expected to be around
150,000 and in a state of nine million there are just better ways
to target voters and better ways to spend money,” said
Jonathan Beeton, Press Secretary for Wesley Clark in Michigan.
“(Clark) is looking to do well and pick up delegates in
Michigan but we’re really focused on Tennessee, Virginia, and
Wisconsin.”

Despite Lieberman’s withdrawal the race, last
night’s biggest disappointment was Howard Dean. Dean failed
to mount even a second place finish in any of the contested states,
perhaps because his campaign had already turned to later
states.

“At this point (Dean) just needs to fare well enough
(yesterday) and do well and maybe win on Feb. 7, 8 or 10 before
Feb. 17 in Wisconsin where we expect to do very well,” Setzer
said.

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