Obama takes Georgia primary

February 5, 2008 4:30:32 PM PST
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama coasted to victory in Georgia over rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, riding a wave of support from the state's large black population.

On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee were locked in a three-way contest.

Blacks comprise about half of the Democratic primary vote in Georgia, and exit polls showed they lined up overwhelmingly behind Obama, an Illinois senator seeking to become the nation's first black president.

"Obama is just better because he makes people, like myself, get up and want to do something positive," said Felix Omigie, a black 42-year-old truck driver from Riverdale. "I can see that he is trying to tap more into the younger generation. He can relate to them."

The Associated Press made its call based on surveys of voters as they left the polls.

Obama had cultivated black support in the state, speaking from the pulpit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s church the day before the federal holiday honoring the slain civil right leader. But Clinton made him work for the win. The former first lady had the backing of prominent black leaders such as Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights hero, and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.

Many voters in Georgia said Tuesday they were moved by Obama's message more than his skin color.

"I didn't want to vote for Obama just because he was black," said Jacqueline Jenkins, 42, a black administrative assistant and part-time college student who voted outside Albany. "I didn't want to vote for Hillary just because she's a woman. I think both bring a lot to the table. I just think Obama would be a better choice."

The election was the first statewide in which Georgia required a photo identification of all voters casting their ballots in person. Some sporadic problems were reported, in part because people could not wait out delays caused by the ID checks before they had to leave for work.


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