Sanders continues western momentum with Wyoming victory

But coming after Sanders’ recent big victories in Washington state, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Hawaii and

Continuing a string of victories across the West, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont won the Wyoming caucuses Saturday, a symbolic triumph if not a race-altering one in the last Democratic contest before the April 19 New York primary.

Sanders beat Hillary Clinton statewide by about 11 percentage points, although the end result was effectively a tie, as each candidate took seven of Wyoming’s 14 pledged delegates, the fewest any state had to offer. Clinton’s nationwide lead remained at 219.

But coming after Sanders’ recent big victories in Washington state, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Hawaii and Wisconsin, it was more evidence of Clinton’s weaknesses among white and liberal voters as the race moves to major primaries in New York and elsewhere in the Northeast.

It was the only contest of the day for the Democrats. In Colorado, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas swept all of the state’s delegate elections, which ended Saturday at the state Republican convention when he picked up the remaining 13, bringing his total there to 34.

Cruz, the only candidate to speak at the convention, received a rousing reception.

“The real question is: Do you understand the principles and values that made America great in the first place?” he said, taking a jab at his rival, Donald J. Trump, whose organization struggled with the most basic tasks in Colorado, such as printing the right delegate names next to the right ballot numbers on the lists of preferred candidates that Trump volunteers distributed Saturday.

Like Sanders, Cruz still trails the front-runner in his race, Trump. And the campaign now moves to territory likely to be far more favorable to the businessman.

Although Sanders was favored in the Wyoming Democratic race, Clinton, as she has in most states, had endorsements from more elected officials, and the state’s four superdelegates are supporting her. In 2008, she lost to Barack Obama in Wyoming by 24 percentage points.

The state was exactly the type of contest she struggles in. It is mostly white, and it uses a caucus format. Clinton did not campaign in Wyoming, choosing instead to devote time and resources to the delegate-rich New York and Pennsylvania primaries on April 19 and April 26, respectively.

New York, Clinton’s adopted home state and Sanders’ birth state, could be a firewall that lets her reclaim the momentum and take a big step toward making her delegate lead insurmountable. Its more diverse population and its more traditional primary method of voting make the state friendlier territory for Clinton.

In Wyoming, the Clinton campaign did dispatch former President Bill Clinton to campaign on his wife’s behalf. On a stop in Cheyenne this month, he talked about the need for clean energy and a transition from coal and other fossil fuels — comments that came as 500 Wyoming coal workers faced being laid off. A protester outside held a sign that read, “God, guns and coal made America great.”

Clinton spoke about the layoffs. “Just think about the jobs that would be created in Wyoming if we decided to maximize your capacity to export wind as you export coal,” he said.

The former president seemed acutely aware of his wife’s chances in the state’s caucuses. “There are a lot of young college students who have been very enthusiastic about her opponent because he promises free tuition for everyone,” he said. (Sanders has proposed free tuition at public colleges.)

“But,” Bill Clinton said, “if you read the fine print, the free tuition comes two-thirds from the federal government and one-third from the state.” He said it was unrealistic to expect the state’s Republican governor and Legislature to support the program.

Sanders showed up in Wyoming, holding a rally Tuesday in Laramie, where he delivered his victory speech after winning the Wisconsin primary.

“I believe we have an excellent chance to win New York and a lot of delegates in that state,” Sanders said in Laramie. “We have an excellent chance to win in Oregon, and to win in California.”

Referring to his large deficit among superdelegates, the party leaders and elected officials who have overwhelmingly backed Clinton, but who could still change their minds, he said: “I think a lot of these superdelegates are going to be looking around them. And they are going to be saying, ‘Which candidate has the momentum?’”

James King, a political science professor at the University of Wyoming, said the state, which has struggled to diversify its economy beyond coal, gas and oil, was a good fit for Sanders.

“He really has to, I think, at each success build on another success, and he is running out of states, obviously,” King said.

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