Mass. Sen. John Kerry ’66 resoundingly won the Connecticut Democratic primary Tuesday as he effectively wrapped up his party’s presidential nomination.
With Kerry’s main challenger for the nomination, N.C. Sen. John Edwards, expected to end his campaign today, the Massachusetts senator is now preparing to challenge U.S. President George W. Bush ’68 in November in what would be the first-ever presidential contest between two graduates of Yale College. Locally, another Yalie also earned a victory, as Alyssa Rosenberg ’06 was elected co-chair of the Ward 22 Democratic Committee along with her running mate, Shaneane Ragin.
Following her victory, Rosenberg, who became the first Yale student in recent history to win elected office in Ward 22, said both Dixwell residents and Yale students were sending a message about the future of their community. Ward 22 includes the Dixwell neighborhood as well as Swing Space and Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges.
“I think this is really a mandate for change,” Rosenberg said. “People see for the first time someone working for a real partnership between their university and the neighborhood.”
With Kerry and Edwards paying little attention to the Connecticut primary, Rosenberg said many students in Ward 22 were more excited about the ward’s committee race than the battle for the presidential nomination. Although supporters of Kerry and Edwards elicited some honks and cheers from passing cars as they waved signs at the corner of Church and Elm streets in the afternoon, the primary was notably lacking in suspense yesterday.
With nearly all of Connecticut’s precincts reporting, Kerry had earned about 58 percent of the state’s vote, with Edwards trailing far behind with 24 percent. Kerry won nine of the 10 primaries held yesterday, losing only in Vermont, which was carried by its former governor, Howard Dean ’71.
While Kerry was widely expected to win in Connecticut yesterday, his victories in larger states like Ohio, New York and California all but mathematically guaranteed that he will be the Democratic nominee.
Zach Jones ’05, who leads a coalition of Yale students supporting Kerry, said the Massachusetts senator’s decisive victory reflected both the strength of his candidacy and the success of his campaign organization, which was the only one to hire paid staff in Connecticut. Jones said Yale Democrats were now united in their desire to help Kerry unseat Bush from the White House, noting that the two Yale graduates’ shared alma mater only highlighted the differences between the two candidates.
“I think it’s only significant in that it shows how different a Yale experience can be for different people,” Jones said. “Bush and Kerry were both Yale graduates, both were Skull and Bonesmen, but from that point forward, there lives have diverged.”
In Ward 1, which includes most of the Yale campus, Kerry earned about 58 percent of the vote, followed by Edwards with 20 percent, Dean with 10 percent and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich with 9 percent. Kerry also won decisively in Ward 22.
According to preliminary results, Rosenberg and Ragin received about 74 percent of the votes cast in Ward 22, soundly defeating the team of former Ward 22 Alderwoman Mae Ola Riddick and Douglas Bethea as well as Cordelia Thorpe, who ran alone. Rosenberg and Ragin were aided by a large turnout of Yale students — many of whom were voting in Ward 22 for the first time — as well as an ambitious campaign operation that knocked on every door in the neighborhood.
But despite the efforts of the Rosenberg-Ragin campaign, even students who did go to the polls on Tuesday said they did not believe that the primary was garnering significant attention on campus.
“It’s a local race, and I feel like people get a sense the presidential primary is a one-man race,” Henry Cordes ’05 said after voting in Ward 22.
While Ward 22 has occasionally featured a heated atmosphere outside its polling place on Bristol Street, all five candidates said the mood Tuesday was calm and cordial.
“Regardless of who wins, we have to work together because it is for the community,” Bethea said Tuesday afternoon.
Riddick, however, said she might file a complaint concerning the Rosenberg-Ragin campaign’s use of church vans to shuttle voters to the polls, an activity she said violated campaign laws. Rosenberg said her campaign was confident that the use of the vans was legitimate.