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Dean Defeats Sharpton in Non-Binding D.C. Primary

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the candidate who spent the most time campaigning in the district, came in second with 34 percent, followed by Carol Moseley Braun with 12 percent and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who earned 8 percent.

Dean addressed his D.C. supporters, who had gathered at a bar, by speakerphone from Vermont, The Washington Post reported. Dean highlighted the fact that he won an election in a city with a majority of black voters and told supporters he would “build a rainbow coalition to take over this country for the people who own it.”

Local activists and city officials scheduled the early primary in an attempt to draw attention to the district’s push for voting rights in Congress.

The local party’s efforts, however, were hampered by the Democratic National Committee, which opposes any primary elections being held earlier than the traditional first elections in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Five of the top candidates, including Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., were originally slated to compete in the primary but removed their names from the ballot.

“The residents of the District of the Columbia made a strong statement today that they will continue to fight for statehood and for a candidate that will stand up and fight for them at the national convention,” said Sharpton in a statement posted on his campaign Web site Tuesday. “The results of the D.C. primary is speak loudly not only of all those without full voting rights in our nation’s capital but for all urban communities who have for far too long been ignored and effectively disenfranchised.”

The primary was “advisory” in nature, meaning that the outcome will not determine which candidate D.C. delegates to the national convention will support. That process will begin on Feb. 14 and continue on March 6 when the district holds its Democratic caucuses.

The Post reported that voter turnout was a light 15 percent, but that it exceeded the turnout for other recent presidential primaries.

“Were we going to get record turnout? No. I didn’t expect that,” said Democratic Mayor Anthony Williams, according to the Post. “But what we’ve gotten here today was more exposure on the issue of D.C. voting rights than any other time.”

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