MILWAUKEE — Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts easily swept to victory Saturday in the Nevada and District of Columbia caucuses, beating his rivals by wide margins and edging closer to the Democratic presidential nomination.
Kerry was the only candidate to campaign in Nevada. He held a well-attended rally in Las Vegas Friday night and was mobbed with supporters when visiting a caucus in the fast-growing city's outskirts Saturday morning.
At the Chaparral High School caucus site, 1,000 people jammed the parking lot and school steps, shoving just about everything Kerry's way for an autograph -- pictures, baseballs, copies of Atlantic Monthly with the candidate on the cover, scraps of paper, books, a press release.
Inside the jammed hall, Kerry stood on a chair to address the crowd and fruitlessly tried to be heard above the din.
"I'm astounded and grateful at everybody coming," he said. "But we have to caucus. I want people to get in there and caucus."
Caucus they did, much to Kerry's benefit.
In Nevada, with virtually all precincts reporting, he won more than 60% of the vote. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean came in a distant second, followed by Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
With all the votes counted in the nation's capital, Kerry had 47% of the vote, followed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, with 20%, and Dean, with 17%
On Jan. 13, Dean ran first in a District of Columbia straw poll. That contest was held six days before the Iowa caucuses, where Dean finished third, setting off the political collapse of the early front-runner in the Democratic race.
The straw poll results were nonbinding and did not count for dividing up delegates to the Democratic convention.
Late Saturday, Kerry thanked voters in Nevada and Washington for the victory valentines they'd handed him, wins that brought his total to 14 out of 16 contests.
He said he was "truly honored and humbled" by the results.
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Caucus and primary results
Washington, D.C. (c)
John F. Kerry 47%
Al Sharpton 20%
Howard Dean 17%
John Edwards 10%
Dennis J. Kucinich 3%
Some figures do not total 100% because fringe candidates and those who left the race are not listed. (c) indicates caucuses. (p) indicates primary.
Source: Associated Press