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Clinton Wins New Mexico's Democratic Caucus

By Heather Clark/
Associated Press
      Hillary Rodham Clinton won New Mexico's Democratic caucus Thursday following a prolonged vote-count that went on for nine days after the Feb. 5 election, the party's chairman said.
    Brian Colon, whose party conducted the caucus, said Clinton had won 73,105 votes, or 48.8 percent, to Barack Obama's 71,396, or 47.6 percent.
    New Mexico had been the only one of 22 states that held Democratic primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday, but which had not yet reported a winner. The count had been delayed because of some 17,000 provisional ballots that had been cast Feb. 5 but not immediately counted.
    Those provisional ballots, and declaration of Clinton as the winner Thursday, ultimately added one more delegate to her total giving Clinton 14 delegates from New Mexico to 12 for Obama.
    With the addition of New Mexico's delegate, the national delegate count stood at 1,276 for Obama and 1,220 for Clinton on Thursday.
    "I am so proud to have earned the support of New Mexicans from across the state," Clinton said in a written statement. "New Mexicans want real solutions to our nation's challenges. As president, I will continue to stand up for New Mexico and will hit the ground running on day one to bring about real change."
    Mara Lee, state director of Clinton's campaign in New Mexico, said: "We're absolutely thrilled to be the choice."
    The election itself on Feb. 5 was a mess, with reports of overwhelmed polling places, long lines, too few ballots, and voter confusion over where to cast their ballots. In Rio Rancho, one of the state's largest cities, a single polling location where 1,900 people remain lined up at 7 p.m on election night.
    Colon has apologized repeatedly for the problems, saying he miscalculated turnout.
    Carlos Monje Jr., state director of the Obama campaign was asked Thursday if he was confident the results were 100 percent accurate. He declined to answer directly, saying only "we have confidence in the process."
    Asked if the Obama campaign would pursue a recount, Monje said: "We have a lot of momentum behind our backs. We've won eight primary contests for Barack Obama. We feel we are going to look forward at the contests we have remaining."
    He said there were some "troubling aspects" with how the caucus was conducted.
    "There were incredibly long lines that kept people from voting," he said.
    "We're going to continue to work with the New Mexico Democratic state party to make sure the next election goes more smoothly."
    Colon, who came under fire for his handling of the troubled election, thanked the hundreds of volunteers who spent the past nine days counting ballots.
    The final figures, he assured, "have been double and triple checked."
    Pahl Shipley, a spokesman for Gov. Bill Richardson, said the governor was pleased the counting is over. Richardson abandoned his own run for the Democratic nomination on Jan. 10, and has not endorsed either candidate
    "He congratulates Senator Clinton on her hard fought victory, and applauds Senator Obama for his effort here in New Mexico," Shipley said.
    He added, "While the governor believes that the party tried to make the best of a bad situation, the problems and delays are unacceptable and must be fixed if New Mexico is to continue with the early caucus."
    According to a breakdown of results released the party, Clinton received 67,246 votes on election day, 1,644 absentee votes and 4,215 provisional votes for a total of 73,105 votes.
    The party's results show Sen. Barack Obama received a total of 65,874 votes on election day, along with 1,587 absentee votes and 3,935 provisional votes for a total of 71,396.

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