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Kerry sails to primary win in Super Tuesday contest

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U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won the New York state Democratic primary after Queens Democrats decided to back him two weeks ago following Howard Dean’s departure from the race.

Kerry received 60.5 percent of the vote and led his nearest competitor, U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), by 40 percentage points, according to preliminary results reported by Associated Press. Kerry is now the likely nominee at the party’s Boston convention this summer in his home state.

“I have never missed an election since 1998,” said Bayside resident Madeline Braistead. “I feel if you don’t vote, don’t complain.”

Edwards dropped out of the race following his losses to Kerry Tuesday.

A poll worker at the school at 215-43 35th Ave. said only 130 people had voted as of 6 p.m. on what is known as Super Tuesday on which primaries are held in 10 states across the country. She said turnout for the state’s Democratic and Independent party primary election, was relatively light.

The Queens County Democratic Organization officially endorsed Kerry Feb. 23 when the senator went to Jamaica’s York College and spoke with borough residents at a town hall meeting. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), an early backer of the veteran legislator, had broken with his party, which initially decided to endorse former Gov. Howard Dean.

Dean quit the presidential race last month after he was defeated in the early primary races after pollsters had predicted he would coast to an easy victory.

Bayside resident Steve Schwartz said he thought it was his civic duty to cast a vote in Tuesday’s election. He came to the polling place at PS 41 with his wife and two children.

“I voted for Kerry,” he said proudly as he left the school’s auditorium.

The Queens County Democratic Organization had endorsed Dean in November and officials with the group said the early support positioned the borough as a major player in determining the eventual Democratic nominee. The county’s choice to back Dean instead of Kerry could influence the role Queens Democrats play in future elections.

Some other Queens Democrats decided early on to back other presidential contenders. State Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) was a supporter of U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), while U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens) endorsed former Gen. Wesley Clark. Both have withdrawn from the race.

Meeks was the only member of the Queens County Democratic Organization to endorse Kerry outright about a year ago, and he was rewarded for his choice by being selected to introduce the senator and having the endorsement event at York College in his congressional district.

Kerry was also victorious in eight other states, including California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Dean was victorious in his home state of Vermont.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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