‘It is game on’ – Irish-based US Democrats cast ballots in race for White House

Americans casting ballots on biggest day so far in US election relish competitive primary

Democrats Abroad have been voting in the US Democratic presidential primary in Dublin. Pictured voting for the first time is Katie Clerkin, with her mum Claire Clerkin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Democrats Abroad have been voting in the US Democratic presidential primary in Dublin. Pictured voting for the first time is Katie Clerkin, with her mum Claire Clerkin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

US Democrats in Ireland cast ballots in Dublin yesterday in the party’s nominating process to pick a candidate to challenge Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.

A queue formed in a hotel on the north quays in Dublin after voting started at 5pm.

The Democrats Abroad primary took place on the biggest day so far in the race for the White House as a third of the Democratic delegates who pick the party candidate voted across 14 states, including the big voting states of California and Texas.

“Today is huge. It is the biggest ‘Super Tuesday’ in history for any political party,” said TJ Mulloy, treasurer of Democrats Abroad Ireland, as he guided voters into the polling station.

Almost 35,000 Democrats living outside the US voted in the overseas primary four years ago.

A total of 13 pledged delegates will represent overseas Democrats at the party’s convention in Milwaukee in July when Trump’s opponent will be chosen.

There are 3,979 delegates in all at the convention; the winning candidate needs 1,991 to secure the nomination.

Race leader

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, the leader in the race so far after four states voted, won the Democrats Abroad primary in Ireland against Hillary Clinton four years ago.

He had the backing of several Irish Democrats voting again yesterday.

Initial figures last night showed Sanders scored the highest vote among Democrats in Dublin voting in person, with 47 per cent of the vote, followed by Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren on 34 per cent, former US vice president Joe Biden on 18 per cent former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on 1 per cent, according to sources.

“He is principled. He is a serious player. He believes in what he says,” said Michael Brennan, from Blackrock, south Dublin, who voted for the democratic socialist senator.

Brennan expects the “party establishment” to “try their damnedest” to stop Sanders, an Independent senator who votes with Democrats in the US senate, winning the nomination but does not think they will succeed. If Sanders clears that hurdle, Brennan thinks he can beat Trump.

“We live in very strange times. We just saw it with the election here in Ireland a few weeks ago with Sinn Féin coming out of nowhere. People are very angry.

People want change and I think the same is true at home,” said the Irish-born US citizen.

Resurgent

Katie Clerkin from Rathgar, south Dublin, is 17 but will be 18 by the presidential election and so can vote.

Her friends are envious that among her pals she is “the first one to vote in anything”.

She backed Sanders because of his pledge to make third-level education free.

Her mother, Claire, voted for Joe Biden, who is second behind Sanders and resurgent again following his come-from-behind victory in the South Carolina primary at the weekend.

“He is actually a Democrat; Bernie Sanders is not,” she said. “That is important to me,” she added.

Greeting voters as they arrived, Mulloy, who voted for Warren, relished another highly competitive Democratic primary after Barack Obama versus Clinton in 2008.

“It is game on. Six months ago you couldn’t beat Joe Biden. Six weeks ago he was out of the race. Today he is probably the front-runner,” he said. “It is crazy.”

Voting in the overseas ballot remains open until March 10th and there will be an opportunity for American Democrats to vote again in person in Galway on March 7th.