- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders easily won his home state in the Democratic Super Tuesday primary over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while New York businessman Donald Trump eked out a victor over Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the Republican contest.

At a rally Tuesday in Essex Junction, Sanders said it was good to be home. Vermont residents were treating him like a conquering hero after unofficial returns showed him with about 86 percent of the vote over Clinton’s 13 percent.

Among the Republicans, Trump held off Kasich with a win of less than 2 percentage points.

At the rally attended by thousands of cheering supporters, Sanders noted that Tuesday also was Town Meeting Day, when people go out and argue with their neighbors about budgets and other issues.

“Then they vote, one person, one vote. In Vermont, billionaires do not buy town meetings, and in America we are going to end a corrupt campaign finance system,” Sanders said, referring to one of his favorite campaign topics.

On the Republican side, with 92 percent of the precincts reporting, Trump led Kasich by 32.5 percent to 30.7 percent, according to unofficial returns. Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had 19 percent, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz had 9 percent and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had 4 percent.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat, described turnout across the state as moderate to heavy.

Montpelier salesman Sead Drljacic, 52, a naturalized citizen originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina, said he supported Sanders, too.

“I was in the war. I was in a concentration camp because I was different religion, different nation. Donald Trump is one who reminds me of people who started everything in Bosnia in the ‘90s,” said Drljacic, who noted that he is Muslim.

Trump has proposed temporarily banning all non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States and said it’s risky to take in Syrian refugees because terrorists could be among them.

Cleophace Mukeba, 49, a Congolese refugee who has been living in Burlington for 10 years, said he supported Sanders as well.

“I am voting for Bernie Sanders because the issue that is rising, about the economy, inequality, they are real issues. And for us, it’s really important because we are refugees who have settled here 10 years ago,” said Mukeba, who just finished a master’s degree program at the Vermont Law School and is unemployed. “We do have huge debt. Unemployment is too high for us. I think it’s important to vote for Bernie Sanders because he is going to change things.”

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