Clinton, McCain lead Peninsula races

Hillary Clinton was leading Barack Obama among San Mateo County voters after an energetic presidential primary that local officials are calling perhaps the most influential in the region’s history.

“Clinton just had the qualities I was looking for in a candidate,” said Burlingame resident Sylvia Patterson. “She has a lot of experience in the White House already.”

With 211 of 553 precincts counted, Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., had 24,242 votes, while Sen. Obama, D-Ill., received 15,909 votes in the county.

In the Republican contest, Arizona Sen. John McCain carried his national momentum into the Peninsula with 49.60 percent of voters with 211 precincts counted. The second-leading vote getter in the county was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 23.40 percent.

“McCain is solid and you can trust him,” Burlingame resident Grace Healy said. “We’ve been in kind of a depressed state lately as a county, and he can help us get out of that.”

The county’s voters reflected statewide vote totals, which indicated at 10:45 p.m. that Clinton had received 54 percent of the vote with Obama receiving 34 percent. In the statewide GOP race, McCain had 44 percent of the vote, and Romney had 26 percent.

“I think Clinton did most of the work when her husband was president,” Christine Gutierrez of San Mateo said.

Obama supporters were well represented in San Mateo County on Tuesday, too.

“We need a change in this country — I think that’s what we’re all looking for in this election and it’s why I voted for [Obama],” San Mateo resident Timothy Saunders said.

Voters turned out in expected record numbers on the Peninsula, Elections Manager David Tom said. A big reason for the turnout was the unsettled races on both major parties, said elections analyst Mark Baldassare of San Francisco. The candidates could also capture more delegates in California than any other state on Super Tuesday, he said.

“It’s the first time in a long time that our state’s vote has counted in the election process,” Baldassare said. “For a lot of people, this has become a historic election.”

The diversity of the candidates contributed to the high local interest in the primary, Tom said.

“There’s a lot of uniqueness to this election,” he said. “That joins all segments of the population to be interested in the election, and that translates to voting.”

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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