Sanders, Trump win W. Virginia, Trump also takes Nebraska

  Fox News projects that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will defeat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in the party’s West Virginia presidential primary, based on exit polls and early vote tallies.

Fox projected earlier that Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump would win the state’s GOP primary.

The polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Trump has also been declared by Fox News the winner of the Nebraska Republican primary, with polls in that state now closed.

The billionaire businessman is the only major candidate left in the GOP race and has now won 30 state primaries or caucuses.

Sanders’ win comes one week after he beat Clinton in Indiana. The self-described democratic socialist has now won 19 states, compared to 23 for Clinton.

decision2016_small Sanders, Trump win W. Virginia, Trump also takes Nebraska

Trump did not hold a victory rally. He spoke to Fox News but did not comment on the West Virginia win, instead focusing on his meeting later this week with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Capitol Hill Republican leaders and on his vice presidental short-list.

“I have a lot of respect for Paul,” Trump said on “The O’Reilly Factor.” “He loves this country. He wants to see something good happen to this party.”

Trump also confirmed a report that he now has five potential running-mates in mind.  

STORY:

Contests in West Virginia and Nebraska on Tuesday mark the first primaries that were expected to be all about Donald Trump — but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is keeping speculation alive that despite ending his campaign after last week’s blowout, he might not yet be done.

Though he and Ohio Gov. John Kasich suspended their campaigns after the big Indiana primary loss, Cruz on Tuesday said that if he sees a path to victory emerge, “We will certainly respond accordingly.”

Cruz is quietly writing to state party chairmen to hold onto the delegates he won in primaries and caucuses. And he’s even submitted a delegate slate to the secretary of state in California, which votes June 7, Fox News has learned.

Asked why the “suspended” campaign would take such action, Cruz California state director Jason Scalese told Fox News: “It was really just to keep faith with our supporters.”

But the moves could bring added attention to the results of the West Virginia and Nebraska contests.

Cruz said later Tuesday on Capitol Hill that he has no expectation of winning Nebraska and reiterated that he’s suspended his campaign. But he added: “If circumstances change, we will always assess changed circumstances.”

Early exit polls in West Virginia show the top concern among Republican voters is the economy. Roughly 54 percent cited the economy as their first concern, followed by government spending at 24 percent while immigration and terrorism tied for third at 9 percent. 

In Nebraska, exit polls for GOP voters showed 30 percent cited government spending as their top concern, followed by 29 percent most concerned about the economy and jobs, 21 percent about terrorism and 18 percent about immigration.

On the Democratic side Tuesday, only West Virginia has delegates at stake, though Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is hoping for a victory to keep alive his bid against primary front-runner Hillary Clinton. He has held the lead in most polls going into the primary contest but still faces a nearly insurmountable delegate deficit in his underdog quest for the nomination.

Clinton’s remarks in March about “putting a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business” hurt her chances of winning the coal-mining state. The former secretary of state apologized in person for the comment, which she said was taken out of context, but skipped campaigning in West Virginia.

Clinton had 2,228 delegates before Tuesday, compared with 1,454 for Sanders — with 29 of them at stake in West Virginia and just other nine contests remaining. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

Exit polls in West Virginia showed Democrats preferred party front-runner Clinton in a head-to-head November matchup with GOP presumptive nominee Trump.

Roughly 44 percent went for Clinton, compared to 33 percent for Trump, while 21 percent picked neither candidate.

Republican voters in Nebraska picked Trump over Clinton 78
percent to 5 percent, with 15 percent picking neither, according to exit polls.

Nebraska will technically hold a Democratic primary for voters. But the delegates were awarded in the party’s March caucus. Sanders won and was awarded 15 pledged delegates. Clinton won 10 delegates and the support of three superdelegates. 

Trump campaigned in West Virginia, donning a hard hat and pretending to shovel coal at a rally last week while vowing to help the struggling fossil fuel industry and its legions of out-of-work miners.

“I’m going to put miners back to work,” the billionaire businessman told the crowd. Clinton “said I’m going to put mines out of business. That’s a tough one to explain.”

The GOP presumptive presidential nominee also told the crowd to “save your vote for the general election. The primary’s gone.”