March 5, 2016 at 9:53 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
2016 hopefuls split wins on ‘Super Saturday’ weekend

Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, election 2016, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (Washington Blade photo of Cruz by Michael Key; photo of Sanders by Nick Solari courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The 2016 presidential hopefuls split wins among the five states up for grabs on Saturday, ensuring the contested primaries for both parties would continue further.

On Saturday, which became colloquially known as “Super Saturday,” Democrats held contests in Louisiana, Nebraska and Kansas while Republicans held them in Louisiana, Kentucky, Kansas and Maine. The next day on Sunday, Republicans had their primary in Puerto Rico and Democrats held caucuses in Maine.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won the Louisiana primary, typical of her success in Southern states during the Democratic primary, but Bernard Sanders won caucuses in Nebraska and Kansas, which is typical of his success in smaller states with more homogenous populations. On Sunday, Sanders also won the caucuses in Maine.

As for Republicans, GOP front-runner Donald Trump won the Louisiana primary and Kentucky caucuses, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won caucuses in Maine and Kansas. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the remaining candidates in the race, had no victories on Super Saturday, but Rubio would go on to win the Puerto Rico primary on Sunday.

Each of the wins enable Sanders and Cruz, who are considered the underdogs in the race, a reason to keep forging ahead. However, Trump and Clinton’s wins in Louisiana are noteworthy because the state yields 61 delegates for Democrats and 46 delegates for Republicans.

At his victory speech in West Palm Beach, Fla., Trump thanked Kentucky and Louisiana for those wins and minimized Cruz’s victory in Maine.

“He should do well in Maine because it’s very close to Canada,” Trump said, referencing Trump’s birth in Canada and questions in some circles about whether that makes him eligible to run for president.

After Rubio had no wins in any of five states on Super Saturday, Trump said the time has come for Rubio to drop out of the race. (The speech was given before Rubio won the Puerto Rico primary.) The real estate magnate said he’d “love to take Ted on one-on-one” for the remainder of the Republican primary.

“The biggest story in all of politics isn’t even what’s happening tonight or on Super Tuesday,” Trump said. “The biggest story is the tremendous outpouring of voters coming into the Republican Party. You’re seeing what’s happening. Millions and millions of people are coming in and voting, and they’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Trump also sought to tamp down talk of another conservative challenger running third-party if Trump obtains the Republican nomination, saying that would jeopardize electing a conservative president who would nominate a conservative justice to replace the late U.S. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Chris Hartman, director of the the Kentucky-based Fairness Campaign, said Trump’s win in the state isn’t surprising because Kentucky, like many Southern states, has “a deep and festering problem with racism.”

“Mr. Trump’s increasing embrace of racist and white supremacist supporters is resonating with a radical and dangerous segment of our voting population, evidenced by violent acts committed against black protesters at a recent Trump event in Louisville,” Hartman said. “The Fairness Campaign and allied groups in our state will continue our work to dismantle systemic racism and seek justice for all, despite the hateful rhetoric of politicians like Donald Trump.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, took the opportunity of the split wins to warn about the possibility of either a Cruz or Trump presidency in a statement. The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed Clinton.

“We can’t afford to see Donald Trump or Ted Cruz sworn in on Inauguration Day next January,” Griffin said. “Both Cruz and Trump have endorsed a future that includes rolling back nationwide marriage equality and supporting religious refusal bills that would empower government officials to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people. Tonight the stakes are more clear now than ever: Hillary Clinton is the champion we need who can beat either of these anti-LGBT candidates this fall, and fight for full federal equality from day one in the Oval Office.”

A photo taken by the Associated Press at a Kentucky caucus site reveals Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was among those working. The Kentucky clerk gained notoriety for enforcing a “no licenses” policy in her office following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality nationwide. It may be the first time she worked at a Republican caucus because she only recently changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

More to come…

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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