Super Tuesday: Bernie Sanders leading in California primary

LOS ANGELES -- Bernie Sanders won Super Tuesday's biggest prize, taking California on a night he sought to blunt the momentum of a suddenly surging Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

California was only one of 14 states that voted Tuesday, but its more than 400 delegates made it the most coveted primary in the narrowing Democratic field. But it is not clear how many delegates Sanders will claim from California, given the state's complicated process for awarding them. The final tally won't be sorted out for days as state officials still must count late arriving mail-in ballots.

Before the California results came out, Sanders spoke to supporters from his campaign headquarters in Vermont, predicting an ultimate victory not only in the Democratic primary but in the November general election.

"We are going to win," Sanders said. "We are going to defeat Trump. Because we are putting together an unprecedented grassroots multi-generational, multi-racial movement. It is a movement which speaks to the working families of this country, who are sick and tired of working longer hours for low wages and seeing all new income and wealth going to the top 1%."

Sanders had gone into Super Tuesday holding a lead in recent major polls of Golden State Democrats. He was considered the party's leading candidate after early wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

But Biden made a strong showing on Super Tuesday, challenging Sanders' lead in the Southern and Midwestern states as he pulled out victories in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

In fact, Biden appeared to take the lead in the popular vote among Democrats who voted on Super Tuesday. There were more than 10.5 million ballots cast on Super Tuesday and early counts indicated Biden had 3.7 million votes compared to 2.9 million for Sanders.

California and its 415 delegates remained the biggest prize of the 14 states voting on Super Tuesday. Results were also the slowest to come in.

The Sanders campaign filed a last-minute injunction in Los Angeles County Tuesday night, seeking to keep the polls open an additional two hours past 8 p.m. The court did not take up his request.

Long lines were reported at some polling places as voters and election officials adjusted to a new electronic voting system that provided fewer polling locations on Election Day. Some waits were estimated at more than two hours with hundreds of people waiting outside polling places.

County officials had already announced they would keep the polls open for those who were in line prior to 8 p.m. Lines remained long at select locations more than two hours after polls closed.

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk said his office had looked earlier in the day about whether it would be appropriate to ask a court to keep polling places open later.

"The voters were already at the voting locations," Logan said. "California state law says any vote who's in line by the time polls close has the opportunity to vote. And voting had been open continuously throughout today as well as the days prior."

Even without winning California, Biden was energized by the results.

"It's a good night," Biden told supporters in Los Angeles shortly before the California polls closed. "It seems to be getting even better."

"I'm here to report: We are very much alive. Make no mistake about it. This campaign will send Donald Trump packing."

Biden was briefly interrupted by two protesters holding signs that declared "Let Dairy Die." The two women were able to get on stage next to Biden and his wife and sister for a brief time before security officers were able to usher them off stage.

By the evening of Super Tuesday, the Democratic field seemed to be narrowing to a two-candidate race with Sanders and Biden taking the majority of delegates.

New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg suspended his presidential campaign and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was reassessing her candidacy Wednesday as the winnowing process in the Democrats' 2020 nomination fight lurched forward after a consequential Super Tuesday.

Bloomberg quit the race just over 100 days after he got in despite pouring more than $500 million of his personal fortune into his campaign. The massive investment netted him a win in American Samoa.

Bloomberg joined Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke as former Democratic presidential contenders to endorse Joe Biden.

Warren, Sanders' progressive ally, was huddling with advisers on Wednesday to determine if there was a reason to stay in the race after her Super Tuesday wipe-out. She didn't win a single state and finished in third place, after Biden and Sanders, in her own home state of Massachusetts.

On Super Tuesday, 1,344 pledged delegates, or about one-third of the total, will be allocated to the candidates. Adding in results from the states that already voted, some 40% of the total delegates will be awarded by the end of the night.

The next biggest target was Texas, with 262 delegates. Sanders held the lead in early results, but Biden overtook him as results continued to pour in through the night.

Sanders also took Colorado, Utah and his home state of Vermont.

Maine remained too close to call.

A fraction of the 20.7 million registered voters in the heavily Democratic state has already returned ballots in early voting. Early voting started last month, but officials expected the bulk of ballots to be cast Tuesday.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was among the more prominent California politicians throwing support to Biden.

"I love Elizabeth Warren, I love Bernie Sanders, I love Pete Buttigieg - but Joe Biden has done more for Los Angeles than all of the other candidates combined," Garcetti told ABC7. The mayor cited Biden's plan for free college tuition and environmental improvements.

Warren had hoped for a big boost in California. On Monday she made a campaign appearance at East Los Angeles College.

"Voters deserve a choice of someone with unshakable values who can also get things done and bring all kinds of Democrats along with her," she said to her 3,000 supporters in the crowd.

She also cautioned against a Biden presidency.

"No matter how many Washington insiders tell you to support him, nominating fellow Washington insider will not meet this moment," Warren said. "Nominating someone who wants to restore the world before Donald Trump when the status quo has been leaving more and more people behind for decades is a big risk to our party and for our country."

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