March 11 (UPI) — Former Vice President Joe Biden was projected to win the Democratic primaries in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri early Wednesday with races in North Dakota and Washington State still too close to call.
CNN and NBC News called the race in Michigan, which is the top prize among Tuesday’s contests with 125 delegates, in favor of Biden over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. with about half of the votes counted. Biden was also projected to win Idaho, which has 20 delegates; Mississippi, which has 36 delegates to offer; and Missouri, which has 68 delegates.
Voters took to the polls in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington with a combined 352 delegates are up for grabs ahead of the national convention. A week ago, Biden took over as the party front-runner after a dominating performance on Super Tuesday, when he won 10 states to Sanders’ four — including Texas.
Both candidates campaigned in Michigan on Monday, seeking to court the pivotal primary state.
Michigan is also a state that will be crucial to winning in November. The state voted for Republican Donald Trump four years ago and was considered one of the key surprise victories that helped him win the presidency over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
This time, Democrats won’t take Michigan for granted.
“I put my faith in Michigan in the depths of the Great Recession — and if you believe, as I do, that our greatest days still lie ahead, I hope that you’ll put your faith in Team Joe,” Biden tweeted late Monday.
“In moments of crisis, presidential leadership is even more important. But time and time again, Donald Trump has proven just how incapable he is of rising to the occasion. He is dangerously unfit to lead our country through a global health challenge.”
During a visit to a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant in Detroit, Biden got into an altercation with a worker who said the candidate was “actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take away our guns” citing a viral video in which Biden said he was going to confiscate people’s firearms.
Biden denied the statement, saying he supports the Second Amendment and has owned several shotguns that he uses for hunting.
“I did not say that,” said Biden. “It’s a viral video like the other ones they’re putting out that are simply a lie.”
Former Democratic candidate Andrew Yang endorsed Biden on Tuesday night saying “the math says Joe is our prohibitive nominee.”
“I believe that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and I’ve always said I’m going to support whoever the nominee is,” said the businessman who has been working as an analyst for CNN since dropping out of the race. “So I hereby am endorsing Joe Biden to be not just the nominee for the Democratic party but the next president of the United States.”
Biden came into the state with new endorsements, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, who’s been floated as a possible running mate, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. The former vice president has also received endorsements from more than 40 governors and members of Congress, plus former candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Sanders attended a roundtable event in Detroit with health officials and discussed how to best address the coronavirus outbreak.
“With the spread of coronavirus, we have already seen people hit with massive medical bills, simply for doing the right thing by getting tested. Others may face massive bills for hospitalization, treatment and quarantine if they need it. This must end. We need Medicare for all,” he said.
A campaign official said Sanders would not speak on Tuesday night.
Sanders and Biden both canceled campaign events in Cleveland ahead of Ohio’s primary on March 17. Sanders was set to speak at Huntington Convention Center and Biden was set to appear at Cuyahoga Community College Recreation Center.
Michigan and Missouri hold a form of open primary Tuesday, in which voters can request a ballot for any party on election day. Michigan, however, requires voters to identify in writing which party they wish to vote for when they arrive at the polls.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas wrote on Twitter that he was turned away from his polling place when he attempted to vote Tuesday.
“I made a video this morning about the importance of voting and then got turned away because I wasn’t in the system even though I’ve voted there for 11 years, including for myself four times!” Lucas wrote. “Go figure, but that’s okay. We’ll be back later today!”
North Dakota, with 18 delegates, holds a firehouse caucus, which is run by the party and allows anyone to participate. Idaho will award 20 delegates.
Many voters in Washington — which holds the second-highest delegate total Tuesday, at 89 — cast their ballots by mail, which must be postmarked no later than Tuesday.
Mississippi voter Jamaury Norris predicted Biden to win the state.
“Even though I like Bernie’s policies, I think he’s going to have a tough time getting Congress and the senate to pass those policies,” said Norris.
The Democratic Party will choose its nominee at its convention in Milwaukee in July. The winner will challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 election.