One third of county voters participate in primary Clinton beats Obama in all towns except JC; Republicans pick McCain

In Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries, which will help determine which candidates get their parties’ presidential nominations this summer, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton unofficially beat U.S. Sen. Barack Obama by more than 24,000 votes county-wide, taking 64 percent of the total Democratic votes cast.

The results are unofficial because not all absentee and provisional ballots had been counted by Thursday. Provisional ballots are special-circumstances ballots, for instance, if a person shows up to vote and their name had not been added to the rolls in time.

In the Republican primary, U.S. Senator John McCain took 60 percent of the Republican vote, beating second-place challenger Mitt Romney, as well as Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. Romney has since dropped out of the race. Hudson County is overwhelmingly Democratic. As of this month, there were 142,890 registered Democrats in the county, and 24,040 registered Republicans.

Nearly 64 percent of those Democrats voted on Tuesday, and almost half of the Republicans voted.

In still preliminary results, Hudson County saw 102,032 of its 314,287 registered voters come to the polls. 91,890 of 142,890 Democrats cast their ballots, while 10,601 of 24,040 Republican voters came to the polls.

The nearly 64 percent Democratic turnout is one of the highest for a primary in recent history with some local politicians claiming it has not been equaled in a presidential primary since the 1960s.

Hudson’s influence statewide While Hudson County propelled Clinton to a statewide victory where she beat Obama by a narrower margin of 53 to 45 percent in New Jersey, Obama did extremely well in Jersey City, where the mayor has endorsed him. Obama also remained competitive throughout all the other cities in the county.

Clinton’s victory in Hudson County was not surprising, since some of its most prominent political residents such as Gov. Jon Corzine, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, and County Executive Tom DeGise – not to mention the mayors of almost all of the county’s municipalities – endorsed her and worked on her behalf in the days leading up to the primary.

Two of the most prominent Obama supporters in the county where Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who served as Obama’s co-chairman in the state, and Hoboken Councilman Michael Russo. State Sen. Sandra Cunningham and Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith also were supporters.

County Executive Tom DeGise said although support for candidates often pitted local allies, the presidential race sparked no rancor.

“These are two very good candidates, and which ever one wins the party nomination, we will support,” DeGise said.

He added, “I saw Jerry [Healy] when I went to cast my vote, and we talked about the candidates. We realize that both candidates have their upside and their downsides, and both will have a tough time in November if McCain is the Republican candidate.”

Influence of JC’s African-Americans and waterfront wards DeGise said both Clinton and Obama are trying to make history, one as the first woman president, the other as the first African-American president.

Obama, he said, is a charismatic leader, someone who is able to bring new faces into the party and to excite people in a similar fashion as President John F. Kennedy did in 1960.

Clinton is an organization person, someone who knows the system and how to make it work. “I’m a Hillary supporter,” DeGise said. “She is strong with labor unions and traditional Democratic strongholds. She has a prove track record what she is able to do.”

But DeGise said Democrats in Hudson County will get behind whichever candidate ultimately wins the party’s nomination.

More than 10,000 registered Democrats came out in Jersey City, where Obama beat Clinton by more than 3,500 votes.

But this was largely to do a huge turnout in the largely African-American populated Ward F, where Democratic voters gave Obama nearly 5,000 votes to only 1,800 for Clinton.

Obama also received significant support from Ward E, populated by young professionals along the downtown waterfront. Clinton, however, prevailed by more than 100 votes there, partly due to intensive campaigning by Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop.

Tom Baroli, who works with Fulop, said Obama’s popularity along the waterfront was very powerful, and it took Fulop’s organizing skills to over come it.

Close race in Hoboken The waterfronts in Jersey City and Hoboken were expected to be Obama strongholds.

But Clinton managed a narrow victory in Hoboken by 4,461 to 4,023 in preliminary counts. McCain collected 1,036 votes to lead the Republicans.

“Hillary needed to win New Jersey, and she needed to win Hudson County to win New Jersey,” said Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, who serves as chairman of the Hoboken Democratic Organization. “If Hillary lost New Jersey, the primary would have been all over.”

Fitzgibbons said Hoboken and the county saw historic numbers coming out for this primary.

“I don’t think we’ve seen this kind of turnout since [Hoboken resident] Johnny Grogan ran for the U.S. Senate in the 1960s,” he said.

Fitzgibbons believes Hoboken will play a significant role in the November general election.

“We have 8,500 under declared voters who didn’t come out in the primary,” he said. “Realistically, Hoboken could see 17,000 voters coming out in November. I think they will come out for Hillary or Barack, not McCain.”

In North Hudson’s towns Countywide, 147,357 registered voters are undeclared, and could swing the election in November if they come out.

In North Bergen, Clinton received 8,860 to Obama’s 2,477. While McCain also led Republicans here with 728 votes, Romney came in with a strong second with 213 votes.

In Secaucus, Clinton swamped Obama 2,045 to 741. Romney beat McCain (with incomplete returns) 245 to 243.

Clinton also thoroughly beat Obama in Union City 7,713 to 2,188. McCain beat second place Romney, 518 to 140.

Weehawken saw Clinton beat Obama, 1448 to 748. McCain outdistanced other Republicans by collecting 220 votes with Romney a distant second with 98 votes.

West New York came out even stronger for Clinton with 4,416 votes to Obama’s 1,210. McCain trounced other Republicans by getting 712 votes.

In Bayonne, where Clinton’s county headquarters was located, Clinton beat Obama 6,088 to 2,842. On the Republican side, McCain beat second place Romney, 678 to 339.

“We had a terrific turnout,” said Bayonne Mayor Terrance Malloy. “I believe Bayonne is Hillary country.”

But Malloy did express some concern about the general election if McCain becomes the Republican candidate. Bayonne, said several other political observers, is often fiercely independent.

In Gutenberg, Clinton beat Obama 1,135 to 443, while McCain led other Republicans by a wide margin with 113 votes.

Results, town by town*

*Note: These are preliminary results as of Thursday, not counting provisional and absentee ballots. More complete results will be available this coming week. Bayonne, where Clinton’s county headquarters was located, Democrats: Clinton, 6,088, Obama, 2,842. Republicans: McCain, 678, Romney, 339.

Guttenberg, Democrats: Clinton beat Obama 1,135 to 443, while McCain led other Republicans by a wide margin with 113 votes.

Hoboken, Democrats: Clinton, 4,461, Obama, 4,023. Republican: McCain, 1,036.

North Bergen, Democrats: Clinton 8,860, Omaba, 2,477. Republicans: McCain 728, Romney, 213.

Secaucus, Democrats: Clinton, 2,045, Obama, 741. Republicans: Romney beat McCain (with incomplete returns) 245 to 243.

Union City, Democrats: Clinton, 7,713, Obama, 2,188. Republicans: McCain, 518, Romney, 140.

West New York, Democrats: Clinton, 4,416, Obama, 1,210. Republicans: McCain was victorious by far with 712.

Weehawken, Democrats: Clinton, 1,448, Obama 748. McCain, 220, Romney, 98.


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