PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Joe Biden extended his wave of success on Super Tuesday to Maine, where he had little ground game.
The former vice president was declared the winner of his 10th Super Tuesday state, Maine, by Wednesday afternoon. Despite facing a tough competitor in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden showed strength in the Northeast with victories in Maine and Massachusetts.
Maine’s primary apportions 24 delegates, and Sanders and Biden were sure to each win some of them. The state was among 14 holding its primary on Super Tuesday.
Although Biden didn’t campaign in Maine, he won support from some prominent Democrats, such as state House Speaker Sara Gideon.
Gideon, who is running to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins, said Biden was the “most able to bring the country together and to look into the future to address all the challenges we face.”
Sanders attracted big gatherings at Maine events in recent years and has a following in the state among progressives and college students. Tim Meehan, a Portland voter, said he’s popular because he cares about “poor people, the needy and justice for all.”
Had Sanders won Maine, it would have been his second victory in as many presidential election cycles — though in 2016 the state was using the caucus system.
The outcome this time was stunning because Sanders had been expected to win, said Mark Brewer, political scientist at the University of Maine.
“There were a huge number of Democratic voters who were not Bernie people who were looking for the non-Bernie alternative who would give them the greatest chance of beating Donald Trump in November,” he said.
Former New York City Mayor Bloomberg had a disappointing night in Maine, where he had more of a campaign presence than the other Democrats in recent weeks. He dropped out of the race Wednesday and endorsed Biden.
It was Maine’s first primary in two decades. Maine last used primaries in 1996 and 2000 and then switched to the caucus system for the next four presidential election cycles.
Turnout was heavier than expected. At least 100 municipalities reached out to the secretary of state’s office to inquire about photocopying extra ballots because they’d either run out or feared they would run out, spokeswoman Kristen Schulze Muszynski said. Photocopying ballots is accepted practice as long as state election officials grant permission. A much-debated state ballot question also drove people to polls.
Many voters like Democrat Erik Nielsen, 62, of Portland, said they have no desire to return to caucuses.
“This is great!” he said, contrasting his experience on Tuesday against 2016 caucuses in Portland that were marred by long lines.
Associated Press writer David Sharp contributed to this story.