Presidential frontrunner Sen. John Kerry narrowly beat Sen. John Edwards in Wisconsin’s primary Tuesday, with a mere 6 percent difference separating the two candidates’ totals.
With all votes tallied, Kerry held 40 percent of the votes and Edwards held strong with 34 percent. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean trailed behind, cashing in with 18 percent of the Wisconsin vote.
Wisconsinites and presidential hopefuls alike went into the Feb. 17 primary with thoughts regarding possible dropouts, vice presidential nominations and runaway frontrunners. However, Tuesday ended with Dean still officially in the race, Edwards gaining momentum and Kerry having won 16 of the 18 Democratic primaries and caucuses thus far.
“The motto of the state of Wisconsin is ‘Forward,’ and I want to thank the state of Wisconsin for moving this cause and this campaign forward,” Kerry said during his Tuesday-evening speech addressing a crowd of strong supporters.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle introduced Kerry Tuesday night, congratulating him on his first-place finish.
“Somewhere tonight in the West Wing of the White House, they’re watching Wisconsin and they’re getting worried,” he said.
Further support was extended to Kerry through students who made their way to Middleton for the primary party.
“I didn’t know where it was going to go,” University of Wisconsin-Washington County sophomore Steve Thiede said of the close race. “It’s Wisconsin, it could go either way; I didn’t think the race was in the bag at all.”
Thiede continued by expressing his reasons for supporting Kerry for president.
“He’s our next best chance,” Thiede said. “He’s the real deal; he’s going to go all the way. He’s going to finish up what the greats before him started.”
Although Kerry presses forward, Edwards has gained much of the momentum supporters were hoping for from the state of Wisconsin.
“Thank you, Wisconsin,” Edwards said to an energetic Milwaukee crowd Tuesday evening. “Today the voters of Wisconsin sent a clear message. The message was this: Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear.”
Even with Edwards’ support strong and growing, third-place finisher Howard Dean has vowed to say in the race.
“You all make me so happy I could just scream,” Dean said Tuesday evening in Madison. “Let’s fight on. On Wisconsin.”
Dean campaigned strongly in Wisconsin over the past few days, terming the state as the “must-win” primary. However, after a disappointing loss, Dean is making his way back to Vermont to reassess his place in this race.
“He was in the race because he had a message,” UW freshman Abby Davidson said of Dean. “I don’t know if [Dean] is likely to win the nomination. He will continue to speak out [if he drops out] and keep in the news.”
With such a strong emphasis placed on the Wisconsin primary, candidates made the rounds through the state meeting with supporters, holding rallies and discussing issues pertinent to the respective supporters and people of Wisconsin this past week. This campaigning has now ended with a new spin on what will become of the March 2 “Super Tuesday” primaries where 10 states across the country will be contested.