NJ: Gov. Corzine Waits to Vote
By Joby Warrick
Early turnout for New Jersey's Super Tuesday primary was reported heavier than normal today, but sporadic problems with equipment forced some voters--including the state's top elected official--to change plans.
Gov. Jon Corzine had planned to cast his vote around 6:15 a.m. at his regular polling station in Hoboken, but had to wait after two voting machines malfunctioned. About a dozen voters were turned away before the machines were fixed, election officials say.
Corzine, a Democrat who has endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for president, finally arrived at 7 a.m. to vote.
Despite the problems, election officials reported brisk activity at polls throughout the state, and said overall turnout appeared to be significantly higher than normal for a presidential primary. Adding to the excitement was a sudden tightening of the race between the two Democratic contenders, with newly released statewide polls showing Barack Obama closing to within a few percentage points of Clinton, long the front-runner in New Jersey.
The polls showed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) well in front of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) in the Republican contest.
Obama and McCain campaigned in New Jersey on the eve of today's vote. Obama appeared at a star-studded rally at a Meadowlands arena in East Rutherford, flanked by actor Robert DeNiro, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Caroline Kennedy.
McCain, campaigning to strains from the "Rocky" theme, worked an enthusiastic crowd outside a fire station in the Trenton suburb of Hamilton. "I can lead this nation and motivate all Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest," he said.
New Jersey's Republicans had been solidly in the camp of former New York May Rudy Giuliani, but many of the state's GOP leaders have switched to McCain since the former New York mayor ended his candidacy. This week's new polls showed McCain enjoying a 2-1 lead over Romney.
A win on Tuesday for McCain would give him all of the state's 52 GOP delegates under a winner-take-all formula. Clinton and Obama will receive proportional shares of the state's 127 Democratic delegates.
Two statewide polls released yesterday showed Obama cutting dramatically into Clinton's once-formidable lead among Democrats in the Garden State. Although the state's political establishment has endorsed Clinton, Obama appeared to be winning support among African Americans and younger voters.
"Obama is closing," said one Democratic consultant. "If he wins it, it's huge."
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