ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (AP) — Vermont favorite son Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is seeking a big night in Super Tuesday voting across the country as part of his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, cruised to victory in his home state’s presidential primary.
The Associated Press declared Sanders the winner over the other 12 candidates in Democratic primary shortly after the polls closed statewide at 7 p.m.
Sanders and his wife, Jane, returned home to Vermont to vote in Super Tuesday’s presidential primary, with the U.S. senator telling reporters that he looked forward to doing well.
The Super Tuesday voting marked the anniversary of Sanders’ 1981 election as mayor of Burlington, which launched his successful political career. Supporters waved “Bernie” posters and cheered when the news feed showed him doing well in some of the states.
“I am excited about where we are. We have come a long, long ways,” Sanders said during an 11-minute speech that wrapped up his election-night rally at an exhibition hall in Essex Junction, outside of Burlington.
WATCH: Sen. Sanders On Super Tuesday
“I want to once again thank the people of the great state of Vermont and all of the people in this state, not only for the victory you gave our movement tonight, but for the years and years of love and support you have given me and my family,” he said.
As he arrived at the polling place in Burlington on Tuesday morning, he told a crowd of reporters that his campaign is about defeating President Donald Trump, who he called “the most dangerous president in the modern history of our country” and creating an economy and government “that works for all and not just the few.”
“We are putting together a multi-generational, multi-racial movement of people who are standing up for justice and to beat Donald Trump, we are going to need to have the largest voter turnout in the history of this country,” he said. “We need energy. We need excitement. I think our campaign is that campaign.”
Vermont’s voting comes on the state’s annual Town Meeting Day when most communities across the state are holding meetings and votes on local and school spending plans. Thirteen other states and one territory are also holding primaries on Tuesday.
“We are hearing poll locations are busy,” Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos said Tuesday before the polls closed, noting the actual turnout figures won’t be available for several days.
There are 13 candidates on Vermont’s Democratic primary ballot, including Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
A number of the Democratic candidates whose names are on the ballot have already dropped out. Any votes already cast for those candidates who dropped out will be counted.
In 2016, Sanders won more than 85% of the Democratic primary vote in the race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Vermont has not seen the attention of the Democratic candidates that larger, more delegate-rich Super Tuesday states have gotten.
On the Republican side, Trump is on the ballot along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and perennial candidate Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente.
Any Vermont resident can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary. When voters arrive at a polling place, they are required to ask for either a Democratic or Republican ballot, but choosing one ballot or the other does not mean the voter is a member of that party.
The polls closed at 7 p.m.
As of Thursday, there were just over 484,000 registered voters in Vermont, up about 41,000 since 2016, said Secretary of State Jim Condos said.
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