Washington State leaders back Clinton but Sanders takes the delegates

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders got a boost Saturday, winning three Democratic presidential contests over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton –as well as the lion’s share of delegates from those states –Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska.

Clinton appeared to claim the lion’s share of LGBT support in the biggest of the March 26 states.

Seattle’s openly gay Mayor Ed Murray endorsed Clinton, telling the Seattle Times that she “understands big city issues” but added he would be happy supporting Sanders, too. He was on hand to introduce Clinton to a rally in Seattle earlier in the week. Tina Podlodowski, a lesbian who served on the Seattle City Council and is now running for Secretary of State, supported Clinton’s presidential bid early on. Other openly LGBT leaders backing Clinton include State Reps. Laurie Jinkins, Jim Moeller, and Joan McBride; and State Senators Jamie Pederson and Marko Liias.

But Sanders made some effort to garner LGBT support, opening up a campaign office in the heavily gay Capitol Hill neighborhood. And in his victory speech Saturday, delivered in the next big primary state of Wisconsin, Sanders mentioned his support for LGBT people. He criticized Republican candidates’ idea of “family values.”

“What they mean” by family values, said Sanders, is that women shouldn’t have the right to control their own bodies and “our gay brothers and sisters should not have the right to be married. I disagree.”

Both Clinton and Sanders put up Twitter posts this week, condemning the North Carolina law that overturns local non-discrimination ordinances that prohibit bias against LGBT people.

After Saturday’s contests, Clinton now has 72 percent of the delegates she needs to secure the Democratic presidential nomination; Sanders has 42 percent.

Meanwhile, the Republican contest has turned into a full-on carnival show as frontrunner Donald Trump and second place Ted Cruz exchange insults and allegations over their wives. A pro-Cruz political action committee ran a nude photo of Trump’s wife Melania in Utah. The caption for the photo, reportedly taken for a Gentlemen’s Quarterly modeling shoot in 2000, suggested she would not make a good First Lady. Trump blamed Cruz and responded with a Twitter post implying that he might “spill the beans” about Cruz’s wife Heidi. By Saturday, Cruz was accusing Trump of planting a story in the National Enquirer tabloid that claimed Cruz had extramarital affairs with five women. Cruz called Trump a “sniveling coward.”

One irony in all this is that Trump and Cruz started out the presidential campaign on unusually friendly terms for two candidates in the large Republican field. But with Ohio Governor John Kasich the only other Republican contender at a distant third place, Cruz and Trump are each pulling out all the stops to try and gain some advantage in the race for the GOP nomination. So far, Trump has the delegate advantage: He’s got 60 percent of the delegates he’ll need in July to secure the nomination. Cruz has 37 percent.

But Cruz has a growing line up of party stalwarts and Republicans getting behind him now, concerned apparently that Trump is turning the party into a symbol of racial hostility, shoot-from-the-hip foreign relations, and poor education.

Coming up next on the presidential campaign trail is Wisconsin on April 5, where the two Democrats will seek their share of 96 delegates and Republicans will go after a winner-take-all contest for 42 delegates.

Colorado Republicans will meet April 8 to decide who gets their 37 delegates. And Democrats will caucus April 8 in Wyoming for 18.

The next really big primary is April 19 in New York –with 291 Democratic delegates and 95 Republican delegates at stake. The following week, Pennsylvania is on the line (210 Democratic delegates and 71 Republicans). And the biggest delegate grab of all will take place June 7 in California –with 546 Democratic delegates and 172 Republican delegates up for grabs.

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