Trump, Clinton claim victories in Connecticut on Tuesday - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Campaign 2016

Trump, Clinton claim victories in Connecticut on Tuesday

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton win primaries in CT (WFSB/AP) Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton win primaries in CT (WFSB/AP)
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On Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton both won their respective primaries in the state of Connecticut.

Democrats and Republicans headed to the polls Tuesday morning to help decide the presidential candidates for their respective parties.

Connecticut has become a major political player in advance of this fall's presidential election.

Polls, many of which are at schools, opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m.

"I'm not happy about the rain, but there is only so many things you can control so that will depress turnout a little bit," said Denise Merrill, secretary of the state. "But there has been an extraordinary increase in voter registration this year so I"m assuming that those people are interested in voting."

Candidates already made their final pushes in the state ahead of the vote.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were in the state over the weekend. At 10:30 p.m., the Associated Press said Clinton claimed victory in Connecticut.

Sanders claimed victory in Rhode Island and Clinton won Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Just after polls closed at 8 p.m., Trump claimed victory in Connecticut, along with four other states that held primaries on Tuesday.

Gov. Dannel Malloy cast his vote Tuesday morning at the Hartford Seminary.

He endorsed Hillary Clinton and said he believes she is on her way to winning the Democratic nomination.

Malloy said his position on a key issue is much more aligned with the former secretary of state.

"I do have a profound difference with Sen. Sanders on gun legislation and his having voted for an exemption to that industry that doesn't apply to any other industry," he said.

In a statement, Gov. Dannel Malloy said "Today Connecticut Democrats made the right choice. Secretary Clinton is the right candidate to move our country forward and grow our economy from the middle out. As she has proved throughout her career, Hillary Clinton gets results, and I am proud to have endorsed her candidacy. I will continue to work hard to make sure she is elected President of the United States this November, and I urge all Connecticut Democrats to do the same. Together we can and will defeat Donald Trump and his extremist agenda."

"I'd like to congratulate Hillary Clinton on a hard-fought and well-deserved victory," said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. "I have always admired Secretary Clinton's unique ability to effect positive change, and I know that her policies and leadership will strengthen our communities and families. Connecticut Democrats understand that by uniting behind Secretary Clinton's optimistic vision for the future of our country, we can not only defeat the GOP nominee, but we can build on President Obama's legacy and move our country forward."

The governor said he wouldn't be campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. He said his priority is working on the state budget.

Former President Bill Clinton, on the other hand, stumped for Hillary Clinton in Hartford and New Haven on Monday. Sanders held an event Monday morning in Hartford.

Republican hopefuls Donald Trump and John Kasich were in Connecticut as well over the past few days.

Ted Cruz has not campaigned in Connecticut.

Trump rallies have drawn huge crowds, but a political prediction website called FiveThirtyEight, expects Trump to win by a landslide taking 99 percent of the vote, with Clinton with 76 percent.

"There's a general excitement around his candidacy. He's from the area. Cruz is from Texas, Kasich is from Ohio. So he resonates more with GOP voters in Connecticut," said Trinity College political professor Kevin McMahon.

He said while some moderate Connecticut republicans may favor Kasich, the Ohio governor has his own state and his message is not attracting more voters. On the democratic side, Sanders could do better than expected, he said.

"His rallies have been well attended, certainly the one in New Haven was said to be about 14,000 people. So there's a certain amount of energy," McMahon said.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the average voter turnout was 26.57 percent, which are preliminary with all but 41 towns reporting.

Merrill said it looked like turnout is higher than usual.

"Here in Connecticut, the primaries are live and unsettled. By the time it gets to Connecticut, people already know what the outcome is going to be pretty much," said John Humphries, a Hartford voter.

Since a number of the polling locations are at schools, officials had asked voters to either vote early at 6 a.m. before school started or wait until dismissal in the afternoon.

Parents and voters said it was a bit chaotic to start at the Greene Hills School in Bristol on Tuesday morning.

"It gets hectic and I have to go to work too," said Margaret Riccio of Bristol.

That was right when polls opened. By 8 a.m., there was a bevy of buses and parents dropping off children.

“You know the kids, it’s a little bit of an anomaly, they’re looking around, they’re seeing people, it’s exciting so they get excited," said Matthew Jose, a behavioral specialist.

"It’s so crazy to get in here," said Elizabeth Aquino of Bristol. "I’ve been complaining [that] my daughter is already late and the bus never came. It’s just going crazy today."

Voters couldn't use the bathrooms at Bristow Middle School because officials didn't want strangers mingling with the students.

"I just wanted to make sure there were enough security, there's kids in the building and there's strangers walking in and out of the building," said Glenn Shafer, a Bristow Middle School parent.

At Slade Middle School in New Britain, students were eating lunch while just feet away, voters were casting their ballots. Lunch tables were seen separating the two.

"It's a concern, and increasing concern ever since Sandy Hook. With the increased security we've had to work around that," said Secretary of State Denise Merrill.

Back at the Hartford Seminary, equally busy voters filed in and out. They said they were excited that Connecticut's delegates could prove pivotal this year.

"It’s a really good feeling," said Bianca Slota of Hartford. "I was worried about that with Connecticut’s primary being so late in the season.

The West Hartford Registrar of Voters said they pleaded for schools to be closed on Tuesday but that was rejected.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there had been no security issues in the state. 

Voters in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also headed to the polls on Tuesday.

Since Jan. 2016, more than 93,000 new voters have registered in Connecticut, according to Merrill. Registration ended on Monday.

Merrill's office said during the last competitive presidential race in 2008, the state saw a 51 percent turnout on the Democratic side and a 37 percent on the Republican side. Tuesday's primaries could exceed those percentages.

To vote in the primaries, voters mush be registered as a Democrat of a Republican. There is no cross-party voting. Unaffiliated voters cannot vote.

Officials said 38 percent of them are democrats and 22 percent are republicans and 40 percent are unaffiliated.

Connecticut Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano released the following statement about the Republican turnout: "Thank you to all who exercised your right to vote in our Republican Primary. I look forward to Cleveland, where our delegation will carry the voices of our statewide Republicans and represent what the people of Connecticut have said they want in their next president. We have seen heavy turnout, which is a tribute to the spirited contest in our party and a wave of new voters registering as Republicans to participate in the electoral process. For the first time in years, Connecticut has a real say in choosing our nominee. All eyes are on the Republican Primary because people realize the next president will be a Republican. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Dan Malloy all represent failure and the Republican candidates are dedicated to solving the many crises left behind after 8 years of a Democrat in the White House."

Connecticut's Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto released a statement in response to Donald Trump's victory in the Connecticut GOP primary: "Donald Trump's resounding victory in today's primary is surprising to no one, but it is yet another reminder of just how extreme Connecticut's Republican Party has become," said Chairman Balletto. "From Trump's win in the GOP's straw poll, to House Minority Leader Themis Klarides's full embrace of Trump, to tonight's primary results, it is clear that Donald Trump's hateful, divisive message is now squarely in the mainstream of the state GOP. While Trump's positions - punishing women for seeking abortions, banning entire religions from entering the country, and deporting 11 million immigrants - might sit well with the base of the Republican Party, they run counter to the views of the majority of Connecticut's general electorate. And GOP candidates in our state will have to answer for their standard-bearer's policy positions and rhetoric. Make no mistake, the Connecticut Republican Party is now officially the party of Trump."

Polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. For Connecticut primary election results, click here.

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