Late-Voting New Jersey Has Clout in Presidential Primary

TRENTON (AP) -
Workers prepare a stage for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who held a campaign rally Wednesday in Blackwood, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Workers prepare a stage for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who held a campaign rally Wednesday in Blackwood, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

The state’s Democratic presidential primary has heightened meaning and candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are doing their best to woo New Jersey voters.

Clinton holds a big edge in support among New Jersey voters heading into the June 7 primary. She is 143 delegates away from sealing up the Democratic nomination ahead of the July convention in Philadelphia.

Sanders hosted rallies at Rutgers University and in Atlantic City, and Clinton at Camden County College in Blackwood. Clinton will get campaigning help when former President Bill Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, stump in the state Friday.

Clinton’s connections to New Jersey run deep. She has the backing of most of the Democratic congressional delegation, party chairmen in all counties and won the state against Barack Obama in the 2008 primary.

“She’s earned her stripes,” Barbra Siperstein, a DNC member and Clinton supporter said recently.

By contrast, while Sanders has won the backing of at least two super delegates, he is a new face to New Jersey Democratic primary voters. His backers are counting on that outsider status as a selling point to voters.

“The establishment has chosen to side with Secretary Clinton, but their decision doesn’t decide the election,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Sanders backer. “The voters do.”

Clinton leads Sanders in polling in New Jersey. A recent Monmouth University poll showed Clinton with a nearly 30-point advantage. But a Rutgers-Eagleton poll had Clinton with a smaller, 9-point lead over Sanders.

Reni Erdos, a DNC member and Sanders supporter, said it’s exciting that New Jersey’s late vote is getting attention, but she thinks California’s primary the same day will get most of the spotlight.