Joe Biden wins Virginia Democratic presidential primary

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden has won Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary, reaffirming the state’s preference for moderate candidates over more progressive ones.

Biden won the Virginia primary on Super Tuesday, a key date in the primary calendar when voters in 14 states made their picks. The full results from Super Tuesday were not immediately available.

Biden beat out Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Virginia was a key test for Biden, who has started consolidating support among moderate Democrats after a convincing win Saturday in South Carolina.

His victory shows an ability to win a state with diverse voting blocs, a mix of rural, urban and suburban areas, and many veteran voters.

The Biden victory is also a blow to Bloomberg, who launched his campaign in Virginia and visited the state several times since getting in to the race as a late entrant. He spent more than $2.5 million funding groups that helped the Democrats wrest control of the state legislature and spent lavishly on field staff and television advertising in Virginia.

Sanders also made several campaign stops in Virginia before the primary.

Once a key swing state, Democrats have won every statewide election in Virginia for the last decade, while also flipping partisan majorities in the state legislature and the congressional delegation. Voter antipathy toward President Donald Trump, particularly in the state’s fast-growing suburbs, have helped fuel that shift.

Virginia is not currently a priority for Trump’s reelection campaign, but there is concern among Democrats that if Sanders is his opponent, it will threaten down-ballot races.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who represents a Richmond-area district that Trump won, endorsed Biden right as the polls closed.

Scott Bauer, who voted at a Richmond elementary school, said he reached the decision to vote for Biden in the past few days, after the former vice president’s decisive win in the South Carolina primary and after U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, who lives in Richmond, endorsed him.

Bauer, a 55-year-old IT consultant, said he worried about Democrats “throwing too much support” to Sanders, who he didn’t think could win in November.

Virginia tends to favor moderate Democrats over more progressive rivals.

Hillary Clinton trounced Sanders here during the Democratic presidential primary four years ago. In 2017, former Congressman Tom Perriello won widespread attention running as an unapologetic liberal answer to Trump in a bid to be governor and was endorsed by Sanders. He was soundly defeated in the Democratic primary by a low-key moderate, Ralph Northam, who easily won the general election.

Biden enjoyed the support of much of the party’s established leaders like former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Kaine.

Ivy Austin, a 69-year-old co-owner of a theatrical costume shop, voted for Joe Biden.

“I’m a moderate Democrat and I think it just needs to go to the middle because the others are just too far to the left for me,” Austin said.

___ Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on the Democratic presidential primary and Super Tuesday (all times local):

8 p.m.

Joe Biden has won Alabama’s Democratic presidential primary. The state has 52 delegates at stake.

Black voters hold sway in the state’s Democratic electorate, and Biden and Mike Bloomberg split the endorsements of the state’s largest black political coalitions. The Alabama New South Coalition backed Biden, and the Alabama Democratic Conference supported Bloomberg.

Biden has also won Virginia and North Carolina, while Bernie Sanders has won the primary in his home state, Vermont. Voting is still underway elsewhere in the country, including California, the night’s biggest prize.

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7:57 p.m.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have won their first delegates thanks to American Samoa.

The island has six Democratic delegates and their caucus awarded five to Bloomberg and one to Gabbard, who hails from Hawaii.

Bloomberg got nearly half the votes, followed by Gabbard’s 29%. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren all were below the 15% threshold, said island party executive director Andrew Bergquist.

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7:50 p.m.

An upbeat Elizabeth Warren is urging Democratic voters to cast ballots that will make them “proud” instead of listening to political pundits.

At a rally in Detroit on Tuesday night, the Massachusetts senator says “prediction has been a terrible business” and is encouraging people to vote with their “heart.” Warren has had poor showings in recent contests dominated by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

People are still voting in many Super Tuesday states across the country. Michigan’s primary is next week, and Warren has scheduled a return trip for Friday.

An undeterred Warren says she will defeat President Donald Trump and is still running because she believes she will make the best president. She says: “You don’t get what you don’t fight for. I am in this fight.”

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7:46 p.m.

Joe Biden has won North Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary.

The state has 110 delegates at stake and is one of the swing states for the 2020 election.

Biden has also won Virginia’s primary, while Bernie Sanders has won the primary in his home state, Vermont.

Voting is still underway elsewhere in the country, including California, the night’s biggest prize.

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7:35 p.m.

Joe Biden says he’s “optimistic” in light of being projected the winner of the Virginia primary Tuesday.

Campaigning in California at an impromptu stop at an East Los Angeles eatery, the former vice president tells reporters he “feels good” and “we’re going to do well in some other states as well.”

Biden was projected to win Virginia, also expected to be a general election battleground, by a wide margin over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The victory in Virginia, where about a quarter of the electorate is African American, comes on the heels of Biden’s commanding win in the primary Saturday in South Carolina, the first test of support among black voters.

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7:18 p.m.

Bernie Sanders has won Vermont’s Democratic presidential primary.

Vermont has 16 delegates at stake and is Sanders’ home state. In 2016, Sanders won more than 85% of the Democratic primary vote in the race against Hillary Clinton.

Sanders is holding an election night rally at the Champlain Valley fairgrounds in Essex Junction.

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7 p.m.

Joe Biden has won Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary.

His victory comes as polls began to close in some states on Super Tuesday. Voting is underway elsewhere in the country, including California, the night’s biggest prize.

Virginia has 99 delegates at stake. It has been considered a tossup state that is increasingly moving to the left.

The results of the Democratic primary in Virginia, with its diverse electoral terrain of rural, urban, and suburban voters, could be a key indicator of which Democrat will be chosen to face President Donald Trump in the general election.

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3:40 p.m.

Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane, have returned home to Vermont to vote in Super Tuesday’s presidential primary, with the senator telling reporters he is looking forward to doing well.

As he arrived at the polling place in Burlington Tuesday morning, Sanders told a crowd of reporters that his campaign is about defeating President Donald Trump, whom he called “the most dangerous president in the modern history of our country.”

Sanders says his campaign is also about creating an economy and government “that works for all and not just the few.”

He says, “We are putting together a multi-generational, multi-racial movement of people who are standing up for justice, and to beat Donald Trump, we are going to need to have the largest voter turnout in the history of this country.”

Sanders adds: “We need energy. We need excitement. I think our campaign is that campaign.”

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3:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump predicts the super Tuesday contests will make for an “interesting evening of television” as his Democratic rivals compete for the largest chunk of delegates to be awarded in the race to run against him this November.

“I think it’s going to be a very interesting evening of television and I will be watching,” Trump told reporters Tuesday as he visited the National Institutes of Health.

Trump acknowledges that Joe Biden has “come up a little bit” as moderates coalesced around his campaign. And he is repeating his allegations that the Democratic establishment is “trying to take it away” from Bernie Sanders, the progressive Vermont senator leading who holds a narrow delegate count lead.

Trump says he doesn’t have a favorite to run against this fall, adding, “I’ll take anybody I have to.”

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1:45 p.m.

One of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign co-chairs says billionaire Mike Bloomberg will owe voters an explanation if he doesn’t do well across 14 Super Tuesday primary states.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stopped just short of saying Bloomberg should drop out if he doesn’t overtake Biden to finish the night second nationally in delegates behind current leader Bernie Sanders.

“If your thesis is Joe Biden’s not viable and he suddenly becomes viable, I think you have to explain to people what’s your new working theory,” Garcetti told The Associated Press. “Or, God bless you, help us win the Senate, keep the House and defeat Donald Trump.”

Bloomberg got in the race last fall amid signs that Biden was a weak national front-runner headed to bad finishes in the early primary states. Biden tanked in Iowa and New Hampshire, but rebounded to a distant second in Nevada and crushed the field in the South Carolina primary. That narrowed Sanders’ delegate lead to single digits heading into Tuesday’s primaries.

Garcetti says Sanders will lead voting in California, but says Biden has momentum to narrow Sanders’ gap and end the night in a strong position moving forward into additional March primaries.

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1:30 p.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey is throwing his support behind Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Comey tweeted Tuesday that he had voted in his first Democratic primary and that he believes the country needs a candidate “who cares about all Americans and will restore decency, dignity to the office.”

Comey says “there’s a reason Trump fears” Biden and “roots” for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Trump frequently targets Biden on Twitter, calling him “Sleep Joe Biden” and recently mocking his debate performance. The president also tweets about Sanders, saying the Democrats are “staging a coup against Bernie!”

Comey has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was fired as FBI director by Trump in May 2017 and has been a chief antagonist of the president’s since then.

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11:15 a.m.

Mike Bloomberg is acknowledging that his only path to the nomination is through a convention fight and suggested he may not win any states on Super Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at a field office in Miami, the businessman said, “I don’t know whether you’re gonna win any” when he was asked which of the 14 states voting Tuesday he believed he could win.

Bloomberg added, “You don’t have to win states, you have to win delegates.” He suggested that no one will get a majority of delegates and “then you go to a convention, and we’ll see what happens.”

Bloomberg was then asked if he wanted a contested convention and he said, “I don’t think that I can win any other way.”

The billionaire is appearing on the ballot for the first time in the presidential race on Tuesday.

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9:10 a.m.

Deadly tornadoes have affected Super Tuesday voting in two southern states.

The Tennessee Democratic Party is moving some polling places damaged by deadly tornadoes that rolled through the Nashville area Monday night. The party on twitter says that voters assigned to 18 polling locations can vote at a designated high school, church and community center.

Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding at least 40 buildings and killing at least seven people. One of the twisters caused severe damage in downtown Nashville. Police said officers and fire crews were responding to about 40 building collapses around the city.

In Alabama, seven poll workers were getting ready to open the doors to voters at the Lawley Senior Activity Center southwest of Birmingham when cellphone alerts began going off with a tornado warning about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, said volunteer Gwen Thompson.

She said they went into the bathroom and were OK, but trees were down. The storm knocked out electricity, Thompson said, but the precinct’s two electronic voting machines had battery backups and a few people had cast ballots less than an hour later.

“We’ve voting by flashlight,” Thompson said. (edited)

The early-morning storms in Alabama damaged homes and toppled trees. Winds as strong as 60 mph (97 kph) were reported by the National Weather Service. Tornado warnings issued in at least five counties.

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8 a.m.

A super PAC supporting Joe Biden‘s presidential bid is running a robocall in some Super Tuesday states featuring positive words about Biden from former President Barack Obama.

Amanda Loveday of Unite the Country PAC says the call is running through Tuesday in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The call features audio from a speech in which Obama calls Biden “a statesman, leader who sees clearly the challenges facing America in a changing world.”

A spokeswoman for Obama said the robocall from Biden’s super PAC did not amount to an endorsement and the former president’s office was not aware that the group planned to use the old audio.

Several candidates in the race have run television ads featuring positive sentiments from Obama, although he has endorsed no one.

Fourteen states vote in Tuesday’s primary. Loveday said the call also ran in South Carolina before its primary last Saturday and could be used in other states that vote in the future.

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