Arkansas: Huckabee, Clinton win

February 5, 2008 7:38:37 PM PST
Mike Huckabee and Hillary Rodham Clinton won their parties' primaries in Arkansas on Tuesday, both boosted by strong ties to the state. Clinton, who served as the state's first lady for 12 years, got help from continued affection for her husband and former Democratic governor Bill Clinton. Huckabee, the state's former governor and Southern Baptist minister, enjoyed widespread support among the state's evangelical voters.

The Associated Press called the race based on surveys of voters made at polls.

Huckabee eagerly accepted the final tally and the 18 convention delegates that came with it. "It was a great win for us, and I think it gives us some real sort of wind to our backs as we go into tonight," Huckabee said.

Voters braved severe weather that included tornadoes to cast ballots. Several precincts closed early and one served temporarily as a storm shelter. Some county clerks sent workers home early because of the bad weather, which has killed at least three people, and said they would count votes Wednesday.

Storms knocked out electricity at Huckabee's official party, but a generator provided power for lights and big-screen television screens showing election returns.

Jack Somers, 26, and Chris Schandevel, 24, watched early primary returns with a handmade, cardboard "Huck's Army" sign at their feet.

"We'll do whatever it takes to get him elected," Schandevel said.

Eight out of ten Democratic voters polled in exit surveys had favorable opinions of the former first lady and former President Clinton.

"Voters have known Hillary here, and that was big part of it. This is a person who had been to a lot of these small towns," said Robert McLarty, a spokesman for Clinton's Arkansas campaign.