Hillary Clinton wins California | SierraSun.com

Hillary Clinton wins California

Laura Kurtzman
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) ” Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Democratic presidential primary in California, a Hillary Rodham Clinton won Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary in California, a state closely identified with her husband’s eight-year presidency.

Clinton had 53 percent to 38.7 percent for Barack Obama with 49 percent of precincts reporting near midnight.

“Without a doubt California remains Clinton country,” said Luis Vizcaino, spokesman for her campaign in the state.

In exit polling by The Associated Press, women favored Clinton overwhelmingly but men were equally divided between Clinton and Obama.

Nearly 7 in 10 Hispanics favored Clinton in the exit survey, while nearly 8 in 10 black voters favored Obama.

“We always knew it would be an uphill battle,” said Debbie Mesloh, a spokeswoman for Obama’s California campaign, “and we were able to close the gap in these past few weeks, which helps a lot for the race ahead.”

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Clinton had a built-in advantage because of her husband’s presidency and she maintained a wide lead in pre-election polls until the final week of the race.

“I think it’s very hard to beat the Clinton brand in California,” said Garry South, a Democratic consultant. “California has its own special history with the Clintons.”

Hispanic voters, in particular, have fond memories of Bill Clinton. Many cast their first ballots during his presidency.

“They know Hillary Clinton,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, national co-chair of her campaign. “They trust her. Both Bill and Hillary have delivered for California time and time again.”

Other voters said they chose Clinton over Obama because they thought she was better prepared to become president.

“I believe she’s going in with wide eyes,” said John Freiman, 42, of Oakland. “She understands the problems and how to solve them.”

But James Gottfurcht, a 60-year-old psychologist from Los Angeles, said Obama seemed like the better leader.

“I experience him as genuine and natural,” he said. “Whereas, Hillary I see as slick and polished, more of a politician and part of the establishment.”

He said was also skeptical about having Bill Clinton back in the White House.

Clinton and Obama waged the liveliest race California has seen in 40 years for the Democratic nomination for president.

Each staked a claim to making history: she as the first woman and he as the first black man to become the party’s nominee.