(CN) – Donald Trump is projected to have won the New York Republican primary and was on a pace in the moments after the polls closed to pick up almost all of the state’s delegates.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has been declared the winner of the Democratic presidential primary with 87 percent of the vote counted, defeating Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, 57 percent to 43 percent.
At the moment, Clinton appears to have secured 151 of the 247 pledged delegates at stake Tuesday night.
In a tweet she said, “Thank you, New York … I’ll never stop fighting for you.”
With 60 percent of the vote counted, Trump leads with 60 percent of the vote, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 25 percent, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, 15 percent.
Right now that margin of victory gives Trump at least 89 delegates of the 95 delegates at stake. Kasich picked up three.
In a nod to Trump’s victory, the Empire State Building in New York was intially lighted in Republican red; after Clinton’s victory was announced, the historic building was lighted in Democratic blue.
The frontrunners, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump came into the New York primary contest hoping victory margins that match the polls would deal a fatal blow to the hopes of their challenges.
Trump’s opponents, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich literally conceded the turf to Trump by moving on to Pennsylvania where they stumped for votes in anticipation of next week’s primary there.
Kasich surged to second place as the counting of the votes began, doing particularly well in Manhattan. In the meantime, exit polls found more than 60 percent of New York voters actually dread the prospect of Ted Cruz becoming the nominee.
On Tuesday morning, Rep. Peter King, a GOP stalwart from Long Island, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program that he would “take cyanide” if Cruz were the nominee, telling the program’s hosts, he “hates” the Texas Republican.
But Sanders, who has won seven of the last eight Democratic contests, gave no such breathing room to Clinton, remaining in New York Tuesday afternoon and bullishly predicting she’d be disappointed in Tuesday night’s outcome.
“If I lose, it means that I lose,” he told CBS’s Charlie Rose on Monday, but he also pointed out that polls have frequently underestimated his support.
He could have also noted that he significantly outspent Clinton before the primary, spending $7 million on advertising leading up to the contest, compared to her $3.7 million.
Trump, who held a double-digit lead in the polls from the time pollster began taking the pulse of The Empire State, hoped to garner at least 50 percent of the vote, which would give him all 94 of the state’s Republican delegates.
For Clinton the night held no such promise. At best she would have to share a percentage of the delegates, but almost more important was garnering a solid win to slow the momentum of Sanders, who has won contest after contest in recent weeks.
Clinton cast her vote in Chappaqua in suburban New York Tuesday morning, accompanied by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
As she emerged from her polling place, candidate Clinton spoke glowingly of the days she had gotten to spend in New York, whose primary came after a relative lull in the primary and caucus schedule.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I love New York,” Clinton said.
The former president was then asked how he felt now that the New York primary had finally arrived.
“It means we’re one step closer to this all being over,” he said.
As for Trump, a large gathering of onlookers greeted him outside Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan and took off with his motorcade headed for the Central Synagogue on 56th Street to cast his vote.
“It was an easy decision,” he said as he left.
As he returned to Trump Tower, the candidate paused and engaged reporters.
“It’s a proud moment. It’s a great moment,” he said as onlookers snapped cellphone photos.
“Who would’ve thought? It’s just an honor,” he said.
As for Sanders, he was doing well in New York, climbing in the polls, until he sat with the editorial board of the New York Daily News and had trouble answering questions about how he intended to carry out his campaign promises related to curbing Wall Street abuses and other matters.
Clinton seized on the session and pounded it home, steadily regaining her lead in the polls in the process.
Sanders also faced another disadvantage in New York the fact that independents, who overwhelming support him, can’t vote in the Democratic primary. That alone left 3 million potential Sanders voters on the sidelines on Tuesday.
On Tuesday night, Sanders spoke to thousands of supporters at a rally in University Park, Pennsylvania.
In the meantime, support of Hillary Clinton converged on the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.
Inside, disco and dance at ear-blistering volume ramped up a huge, enthusiastic crowd waiting for the first results to pour in.
“We Are Family” the old Sister Sledge hit from the 1970s blasted from overhead speakers, mingled alongside more contemporary chart toppers by Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
As large as the crowd was, it was easily matched by the hundreds of reporters and camera crews who manned rows and rows and desks. In many respects the scene – television reporters constantly updating their networks and print reporters typing away on laptops – was what one would expect and such an event. In this case, however, it was political coverage and punditry on steroids, making the Clinton event the biggest, busiest and loudest political rally many of the reporters on hand had ever seem.
Said one among the throng: “Lots of people … busy, crazy, loud.”
Outside, long lines of people waited outside the hotel hoping to get in.
“She’s the lesser of all evils, but you’ve got to represent,” said Mike Thom, a 45-year-old banker from Manhattan who weathered the long lines with the hordes of Clinton supporters to get a glimpse of the former first lady.
Explaining his presence in the line, Bill Keough, 23, a banker originally from Massachusetts now living in Manhattan, said “You have to take a stand.”
“A lot of people in my generation are very complacent, or they complain because they feel nothing can be done. We have to represent,” Keough said.
Lisa Chamberlain, 47, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, said she first met Hillary Clinton 20 years ago, and “was kind of skeptical of her at the time.”
“But like a lot of people who meet her, you learn she’s different” than her public reputation,” Chamberlain said. “I’m a Hillary supporter, obviously.”
“I feel like she is so qualified for the job,” said Susannah Perlman, an event planner from New York. “She’s had a proven record.”
By the time the two women offered their assessment, the audience awaiting the triumphant candidate was at least 1,000 people strong, and it continued to grow.
A live funk band had also taken over for the recorded music, and was belting out a groove.
“Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof,” the singer said. “Because I’m happy …”
Clinton took the stage amid thunderous applause from the thousands in the audience flanked by her husband, former president Bill Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea. The Clintons barnstormed New York in the days leading to the night’s big event.
“America is great, and we can do great things,” Clinton told the crowd who jammed a ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel in the Times Square area of Manhattan chanting “Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!” and waving blue banners reading, “Fighting for us.”
“We’re going to go up against some powerful people that will do, say and spend whatever it takes to knock us down,” she said, adding, “it’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”
“There’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be cured by Americans,” she said, showering praise on New Yorkers as “big-hearted, open-minded, straight-talking, hard-working people.”
She ticked off the talking points that have dominated her campaign in the last weeks to win the Empire State, including raising the national minimum wage, gun control, respect for diversity, equal pay for women, affordable education, “creating dignity,” “reducing inequality” and “rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.”
“The motto of this state is ‘Excelsior,’ — ever upward — so let’s go out!” she told the crowd as she eyes her next battle: the high-stakes win for Pennsylvania’s delegates.
The former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady praised New Yorkers as it recovered from the 9/11 attacks, and how the nation continues to dig itself out of the depression.
“America is a problem-solving nation,” she said. “It’s who we are.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had praise for Clinton before she took the stage, saying, “Hillary is a New York Democrat. She gets us. She is a can-do Democrat. We don’t just talk the progressive talk, we walk the progressive walk,” he said.
New York Bill de Blasio also pumped up the crowd, saying New York’s choice in Clinton is a calling card for the rest of the country.
“You did something wonderful for America,” he said. “You had one chance, and you know what? You got it right.”
Primary day in New York was not flawless, however.
New York City’s comptroller said Tuesday he plans to audit the city’s Board of Elections after numerous voting issues were reported in Brooklyn.
Scott Stringer said the audit is necessary because of “widespread reporters of poll site problems and other irregularities.”
Among the issues he pointed to was 125,000 people who were evidently removed from New York state voter rolls, 60,000 voters who received notices last month telling them the primary date was in September, polls that did not open in time, and election workers who apparently were not adequately trained.
Meanwhile the New York State Attorney General’s office said Tuesday night it has received over 700 complaints regarding problems at the polls.
In some cases, the office said, entire buildings and blocks were missing from the voting rolls.
Many Sanders supporters who claimed they were kept from the polls showed up at the New York branch of the campaign’s official primary watch party at KBH Bierhalle, a beer hall in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood.
There, New York City Council members and celebrities like R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe mingled with rank-and-file Sanders supporters, and a handful of Clinton backers who cheered after CNN called the primary in favor of the former Secretary of State on the big screen.
City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who led Sanders on a walking tour of public housing projects in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood on Sunday, called the voting problems in his borough a “real travesty.”
“In a race like this, you need to engender as much voter trust as you can, and unfortunately [this primary] did the opposite,” he said.
New York has had one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country, and problems at the polls were the subject of a City Council hearing in 2012.
Williams is now calling for another because the problem “seems to be getting worse.”
Comptroller Stringer’s public endorsement of Clinton almost a year ago led some to question his ability to conduct a neutral audit, but Williams said the problems in New York’s election processes transcend political partisanship.
“I think that people on both sides understand how bad this is that people don’t have trust in the system,” he said. “So I have full faith that no matter who is supporting whom, we want to get to the bottom of why people are disenfranchised in this system.”
Washington-based attorney John Carpenter said that he traveled from the nation’s capital to volunteer for a voter-protection program affiliated with the Sanders campaign to “protect the integrity of the system.”
It was a busy day for him and his fellow lawyers in Brooklyn.
“As an observer, working at this voter protection operation, our phones were ringing incessantly the entire day,” he said. “We had 50 people working. As soon as their call ended, another call came in immediately for the entire day. There were problems throughout the state.”
Sitting beside him were fellow attorney Alvin Guttman who traveled from Florida to observe the primary and reported similar woes and would-be Sanders voter Ann Bassen, a Democrat for 20 years surprised to find herself listed as “unaffiliated” after renewing her driver’s license.
Not everyone at the pro-Sanders bash was unhappy, and one Clinton supporter — who wished only to be identified as a “young progressive activist” — upended voter stereotypes as a millennial and an Israeli-Palestinian dove.
At the Brooklyn Democratic debate, Clinton took a hawkish line defending Israel, and Sanders pushed her to agree that the Jewish state went too far in its “disproportionate” attacks on Gaza in 2014.
The Clinton supporter wore a T-shirt with the Hebrew and Arabic message “Save Sheikh Jarrah,” the name of an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem facing Israeli expansion.
Despite preferring Sanders’ stance on Palestinian rights, the supporter said he trusted Clinton to have a “better idea of how to get things done.”
“So I hope this is mostly campaign posturing to maintain the sort of traditional, establishment Jewish vote,” he said, referring to Clinton’s platform.
Reporter Jacob Kornbluh from the Jewish Insider reported that Brooklyn’s Hasidic enclaves leaned strongly for Clinton — 60 percent to 39 percent in Borough Park, 53 percent to 46 percent in Midwood, and 64 percent to 36 percent in Coney Island and Seagate.
Meanwhile, prominent Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour told the crowd at the bar that Sanders carried the Arab neighborhoods of Astoria, Queens — home to “Little Egypt” — and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn — home to “Little Palestine.”
“Bernie Sanders engaged with some of the most marginalized communities,” she said as she roused the crowd, using a wooden whiskey barrel as her podium.
“Today we may not have won New York state, but communities have won. Organizers have won,” she said.
Documentary filmmaker Josh Fox, nominated for an Academy Award for “Gasland,” said that the fact that all but seven counties in upstate New York went to Sanders shows the strength of the senator’s proposal to ban the controversial form of natural gas drilling known as fracking.
The issue remains a lightning rod in New York amid plans to build the so-called Constitution Pipeline, carrying fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania through four Empire State counties — Delaware, Broome, Chenango and Schoharie — crossing the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains.
Sanders won all four of these counties handily.
“Everywhere I go, and I’m on a 100-city tour of the United States right now, someone’s fighting a pipeline,” said Fox. “That’s what the natural gas bridge of Hillary Clinton means. I’m sure that this pipeline grab right now is one of the largest eminent domain grabs in the history of the United States.”
Such environmental, energy and land isssues will likely animate voters in Pennsylvania, another delegate-rich state that votes next week and has not yet banned this form of drilling.
The Keystone State is widely considered a must-win for Sanders, if he intends to overcome the increasingly daunting odds against his bid for the White House.
Photo caption 1:
The scene at Hillary Clinton’s rally at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. (Photo by Nick Divito.)
Photo caption 2:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump fills out paperwork at his polling place in New York, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Photo caption 3:
A Hillary Clinton supporter in primary night finery she made herself. (Photo by Nick Divito.)
Photo caption 4:
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton points to members in the audience after speaking at the 2016 Legislative Conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions in Washington, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Photo caption 5:
Academy award-nominated “Gasland” director Josh Fox, a Sanders supporter, speaks in Brooklyn. (photo by Adam Klasfeld)
Photo caption 6:
The scene at the Sanders campaign’s official primary watch party at KBH Bierhalle, a beer hall in Brokklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. (photo by Adam Klasfeld)
CNS reporters Nick Divito and Adam Klasfeld in Manhattan contributed to this report.
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