April 6, 2016 at 12:02 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Sanders, Cruz beat front-runners in Wisconsin primary
Bernie Sanders, election 2016, Ted Cruz, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have won their primaries in Wisconsin. (Photo of Sanders by Nick Solari courtesy Wikimedia Commons; photo of Cruz by Christopher Halloran courtesy Bigstock)

Shaking things up for the presidential front-runners of their respective parties, 2016 hopefuls Sen. Bernard Sanders and Sen. Ted Cruz emerged as the winners in the Wisconsin primaries on Tuesday.

Media major outlets declared Sanders the winner over his rival Hillary Clinton and Cruz the winner over his competitors Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich soon after polls closed at 9 p.m.

On the Democratic side, Sanders won the Wisconsin Democratic primary with 56.6 percent of the vote compared to 43.1 percent won by Clinton. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Cruz won 48.2 percent of the vote, followed by Trump with 35.1 percent and Kasich with 14.1 percent.

At at campaign rally in Laramie, Wyo., Sanders celebrated his Wisconsin win by emphasizing the momentum his campaign has enjoyed since its beginnings a year ago.

“With our victory tonight in Wisconsin, we have now won seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries, and we have won almost all of them with overwhelming landslide numbers,” Sanders said.

Clinton wasn’t expected to speak later in the evening in Wisconsin. As pointed out by the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein on Twitter, she was attending a high-dollar fundraiser as Sanders spoke and the candidate articulated his familiar refrain the average donation to his campaign was $27.

But to win the Democratic nomination, Sanders will have to continue racking up wins by significant margins in states that’ll be more challenging for him. Among the upcoming major states are Pennsylvania, where polls show Clinton in the lead, and New York, where Clinton has an advantage because she served there as U.S. senator.

Sanders will also have to overcome a widely panned interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News in which he seemed unaware of the details of his own proposed policies, such as where he’d place terrorist suspects after closing Guantanamo Bay, the process for breaking up big banks and whether bank executives can be jailed under current law.

In a speech in Milwaukee, Cruz also celebrated his victory after he was introduced on stage by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who endorsed him before the primary.

“Tonight, Wisconsin has lit a candle guiding the way,” Cruz said. “Tonight, we once again have hope for the future.”

Cruz also recommitted himself to upholding “religious liberty” as president, which is considered code for enabling anti-LGBT discrimination.

“Catholic schools, and Jewish day schools, Brigham Young, and the Little Sisters of the Poor will see a Supreme Court that protects their religious liberty,” Cruz said.

The win by Cruz in Wisconsin jeopardizes the expectation Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee and increases the possibility the candidate could be selected at an open convention.

Trump won at least three delegates in Wisconsin. On the Republican side, some delegates are awarded on the basis of which candidate wins each of the state congressional districts. Trump was doing well in early returns in rural areas of the state.

According to the Associated Press, voter turnout in the Wisconsin primary was estimated to be 40 percent of the electorate, which is the highest ever for a primary in the state since 1980.

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

1 Comment
  • Okeedoke. Not bad at all. Best case scenario? Trump wins GOP nomination by a whisker after a bruising convention brawl (perhaps, literally).

    In November, millions of Republicans stay home in disgust w/ Trump. So the House and Senate both flip to Dems, giving Hillary and Liz (or Hillary + Bernie) a two-year mandate to govern progressively.

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