WASHINGTON — Donald Trump moved closer to clinching the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday by winning the Washington primary.
Trump became the presumptive nominee earlier this month with a decisive win in Indiana that forced his remaining rivals out of the race and ended months of talk about the potential of a contested convention.
He heads into the Washington primary 48 delegates shy of the 1,237 he needs to clinch the GOP nomination. Forty-four delegates are at stake in Washington so the state won’t put him over the line Tuesday. It will, however, leave him inches short of it with a slate of contests on June 7 in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana and South Dakota sure to seal the deal.
Trump is the last Republican standing in the presidential race — but that doesn’t mean he’s without opposition in Washington. The state’s vote-by-mail contest features ballots that include three other Republicans: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Ben Carson.
Cruz and Kasich quit the GOP race as ballots were being printed, and Carson never officially notified the state that he was dropping out.
As a result, the real contest in Washington is Trump vs. a not-Trump protest vote divided among those three candidates, all of whom have suspended their campaigns.
When to expect results
Every registered Washington voter was mailed a primary ballot with both Democratic and Republican candidates on it.
The state’s primary is open, which means voters are free to choose whichever party they want. But they can only vote for a presidential candidate in one party’s contest — otherwise, their ballots won’t count.
Ballots have been arriving for days, but the deadline to get them postmarked or deposited into a ballot drop box was 8 p.m. PT Tuesday.
That means the first results should come shortly after 11 p.m. ET.
Meaningless vote for Dems
Washington is also holding a Democratic primary Tuesday, but its results are meaningless.
It’s one of the nation’s most confusing procedures: Washington holds both primaries and caucuses for Democrats and Republicans.
Republicans chose to divvy up their delegates through the primary — which is why Tuesday’s contest matters. But Democrats decided to allocate their delegates in the March 26 caucuses, where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won all 39 counties and claimed the state by a 3-to-1 margin.
So Sanders will carry 74 delegates into the Democratic National Convention, while Hillary Clinton has 27 — plus many of Washington’s 17 superdelegates. That makes Tuesday’s primary results a popularity contest with no impact on the Democratic nomination