Rubio Wins DC Republican Primary, Kasich Close Behind | NBC4 Washington

Rubio Wins DC Republican Primary, Kasich Close Behind

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    The District's sometimes-overlooked Republican voting bloc came out in force Saturday to cast ballots for the Republican presidential nomination and to choose delegates for the GOP convention. News4's Derrick Ward reports. (Published Saturday, March 12, 2016)

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has won the D.C. Republican primary, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich less than two percentage points behind. 

    Rubio earned 37 percent of the D.C. vote and picked up 10 delegates, while Kasich received 36 percent and will get nine delegates, according to the DC Republican Party.

    Donald Trump came in third with 13.77 percent and Ted Cruz was fourth with 12.36 percent.

    Republicans flocked to a downtown hotel on Saturday to cast ballots in the city's first-of-its-kind presidential convention and cast a total of 2,839 votes.

    The convention — essentially a primary conducted in a single, supersized precinct — was held at the Lowes Madison Hotel on 15th Street, Northwest. Registered Republican voters cast their votes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

    Turnout appeared robust, with people waiting more than an hour to vote in a line that stretched longer than two city blocks on Saturday afternoon.

    "This is worse than getting a new iPhone," said Jeni Hansen, 38, who works in the tourism industry.

    Volunteers for Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio were handing out brochures and stickers, and support for Rubio — who has won just one primary and faces a crucial test Tuesday in his home state of Florida — appeared particularly strong. The District's 27,000 registered Republicans tend to be moderate and establishment-friendly, and some voters sported a sticker with the hashtag "#NeverTrump."

    "Trump alternately scares and horrifies me," said Bryan Marra, a 39-year-old attorney who was running as a delegate for Rubio. "He scares off people we need to bring into the party — Latinos, young people, women."

    A straw poll taken by the D.C. Republican Party on March 2 showed frontrunner Donald Trump has a small lead over Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a tight battle for third. Trump garnered 31 percent support in the poll, with Rubio at 28 percent, Cruz at 16 percent and Kasich at 14 percent.

    Political activists gathered across the street from the hotel early Saturday in an effort to convince voters to “Dump Trump.” The rally, taking place near Thomas Circle, has been planned for a while and is not in response to the Chicago protests that occurred Friday night.

    A crowd waiting for Trump to speak Friday in Chicago erupted after the presidential front-runner postponed his rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion over safety concerns.

    The scenes brought reproach from Trump's presidential rival, Sen. Ted Cruz. Outside a dinner for Illinois Republicans, Cruz said Trump "bears a responsibility for creating" the kind of environment seen at the rally, and that its escalating is "the predictable consequence."

    Trump and Kasich are expected to campaign in Ohio on Saturday. Rubio is concentrating his efforts on his home state of Florida. Cruz was in Illinois on Friday night.

    The District will send 19 delegates to the convention, as many as Hawaii and only four fewer than New Hampshire. They'll be allocated proportionally, unless one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, which would make it winner-take-all.

    Results were expected to be announced around 9 p.m., with Orthodox Jews getting a chance to vote after the polls close at 4 p.m.