Progressive firebrand Bernie Sanders claimed a decisive victory on Saturday in the Nevada caucuses, solidifying his front-runner status in the race to choose the Democratic nominee who faces President Donald Trump in November’s election.
Bernie Sanders was comfortably ahead with some 10 per cent of the vote reported, and his win is a substantial accomplishment in a state seen as an important bellwether because it is the first diverse electorate to weigh in on the 2020 presidential race.
According to the media report, the 78-year-old senator from Vermont was leading with 44.7 per cent of the vote, followed by former vice president Joe Biden at 19.5 per cent.
South Bend, Indiana’s former mayor Pete Buttigieg stood at 15.6 per cent, while progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren was at 11.8 per cent and Senator Amy Klobuchar well back at 4.3 per cent.
“We won the popular vote in Iowa, we won the New Hampshire primary, and according to three networks and the AP, we have now won the Nevada caucus,” Sanders told a raucous rally, which responded with chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”
“In Nevada, we have just put together a multi-generational, multi-racial coalition, which is not only going to win in Nevada, it’s going to sweep this country.”
Bernie Sanders was speaking in El Paso, Texas, one of the 14 states that vote on “Super Tuesday” on March 3, when he hopes his progressive policies including universal health care and raising the minimum wage will strike a chord with millions of Americans.
On Saturday, Sanders condemned Russia for its reported attempts to help his campaign, telling it to “stay out of American elections”.
South Carolina has a majority black Democratic electorate, and Biden leads polling there, riding his popularity among African Americans due in part to his eight years as popular President Barack Obama’s deputy.
In Las Vegas, caucuses were held in several of the city’s world-famous casinos and hotels.
Unlike in a primary, where voting is by secret ballot, caucus-goers vote publicly by standing with fellow supporters of their chosen candidate.
Sanders, 78, is trailed closely by another progressive, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who registered 17 per cent in the survey.
Last year, Sanders released a decade of tax returns, providing new insight into how the Democratic socialist from Vermont became a millionaire between his two presidential runs.
Earlier, according to the returns provided by his campaign, Sanders and wife Jane’s bottom line jumped from $240,622 in 2015, the year he launched his first White House bid, to $1,073,333 a year later, as the once-obscure lawmaker became a political sensation on the left and a bestselling author with royalties pouring in, CNN reported.
Sanders reported a total 2018 family income of $566,421 — $382,920 of which came from writing and royalties. The documents showed he paid $137,573 in federal taxes in 2018 and owed $8,267 in taxes for the year.
The poll is good news for Sanders, who increased his standing by 5 percentage points since the last Des Moines Register poll in November 2019. That survey showed Buttigieg surging to the front of the pack with 25-per cent support.
In 2016, during his first presidential campaign, Sanders released only one year of records — from 2014.
(With inputs from agency)